Best days off take me out of myself with the nearest and dearest — so a gloriously sunny Saturday was spent together at Alton Towers. It’s weird not having any aviation noise, though. I hadn’t realised how ubiquitous aviation was until it was no more, and life must be especially weird around Heathrow. Currently the Eyjafjallajökull volcano (try saying that when you’ve had a few) still seems to be winning.
Our younger family members are more into theme parks perhaps than me, but with hearts high we headed for Britain’s largest Theme Park, Alton Towers — Rural Staffordshire and pity the neighbours — and the newly opened Th13teen.
This has been billed as the “Ultimate Rollercoaster” “Never has so much theme park technology been combined in one fantastically thrilling ride,” gushed the blurb, backed by late night TV advertising.
For an hour and a half we waited in line.
Tension built slowly, as portentious organ music swelled, a bit like Church. Meanwhile, a nubile soloist languidly sang lines from The Teddy Bears Picnic in a minor key (I kid you not). Then she counted slowly up to Thirteen (geddit?) in a dusky sotto voce that the unordained might associate with dirty phonecalls.
Thank the Lord for Amazon Kindle on the iPhone. Then...
Actually, I hate to say it — Th13teen was OK but, perhaps, just a tad lame. There was a substantial but not major iggly wiggly rollercoaster through the woods, with only a lap bar, then a hi-tech bit in a tomb thingie with a few jerks and screams and some laser stuff, then you whizz backwards in the dark for 10 seconds or so. Fair enough, but Lord knows why it all cost £15 million. Perhaps I lack imagination, or 20+ years of being a vicar have insulated me against screams and plastic bats. I did like the wraiths, though — kind of sackcloth dirty old monks. If they sold the outfits in the gift shop I might have been sorely tempted.
To check out whether we had lost our taste for being centrifuged, we headed for Lucy’s all time favourite rollercoaster, Air. This simulates flying around on your tummy wiggling your toes, and a right old sensation it is, too. It’s a classy ride, very smooth, and greatly improved if you get to float over Staffordshire without screams. Rolling gently over and upward into the sun like dead ants with your best beloved by your side brings you closer to heaven than a poke in the eye.
We took Anna for the first time on Rita Queen of Speed, a name that’s fun to ennunciate in thick Glaswegian. Rita accelerates you from 0-60 in 2 seconds. She offers a particularly orgasmatronic experience for us Brits, because her Queue to Thrill ratio is One hour to 18 seconds.
Finally, we all went on Nemesis, which is very iggly wiggly, like this:
You Barrel roll in and out of a few holes in the ground for 22 seconds, shooting 3-4G on the loop the loop bit. All most acceptable. I usually look like I'm nodding off in the pix, but on our Air ride, I look I’m casting eyes up to heaven, and Lucy looks insanely happy, like she’s got there already. Perhaps we have, after almost 26 years of marriage. The very nice lady at MacDonalds on the way home (I know, I know — first time in years) complimented Lucy on our childrens’ politeness (an unanticipated bonus). Proof that the family that plays together outlays together. Back to school next week. And planes overhead, perhaps.