from Winchester

My second piece of Fortnight Writing: Risk Taking and Repurcussions. Subject from Ria Hartley, an artist, researcher and educator based in Bristol.


Risks I have taken

Interrailling aged 17
Getting lost in industrial estates
Class A drugs
Cycling with eyes closed
Ibrox Braveheart
Trying to make a living from art
Jumping off a bridge


Negative repurcussions

Loneliness, sexual harassment
Attachment, bad sex, awkwardness
Theft, fear, bad sex
None yet
Vomit, gurning
None yet (surprisingly)
Abuse, head cold
Bruising, mild river-sickness


I climb the path up to the bridge not quite convinced I’ll do it. Wondering whether sensibility or stubbornness will win out. I know that stubbornness is the reason I normally do things that are a bad idea.

We stand at the top and talk about it for a bit. Shit ourselves, almost. I really did feel a bit like shitting myself at one point. The inability to lose face is pretty strong. Stubbornness might still win out.

I take fucking ages. People come up, we chat, they egg me on. I climb over the barrier with them. They jump. I climb back over. Adrian jumps. I turn and walk back down the path. Meet a couple walking up. I haven’t lost face yet so I turn and walk with them. We talk. Egg each other on. Same story. He jumps. She doesn’t. She walks back down. I stay.

Everyone loses interest. I’m still up there. No one would care if I didn’t jump. But. Time passes. Time passes. This guy cycles past, stops, cycles back. We flirt. ‘Would you jump if I jumped with you?’ Yeah, I would. He locks his bike. I’m going to jump off a bridge to impress a boy I don’t fancy.

‘Actually I’ll go on my own’. I climb over. Let go. I don’t even want to. Can’t imagine hitting the water without breaking several bones (which means, I think, that I probably will). Fly for ages. Hit hard. Under,

1, 2, 3 seconds. And up. Breathe. Sore neck. Sore breast. Bruising but no broken bones. Swim to the jetty.

A bunch of people who had got bored of waiting hand me a drink. A group I’ve never seen before cheer as I walk past.

But the exhilaration doesn’t exceed the blatant stupidity and I don’t want to do it again.

What a dickhead.