Thought Leadership

Don’t jump!

By Colin Walls

There is a quote, accredited to a selection of people, including Thomas Beecham, Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill: “Try everything once except folk dancing and incest.” And I think that this is quite good advice, but maybe should not be taken too literally.

Among the things that I have tried in the not too distant past are glass blowing and blacksmithing, for example, but there is one activity that has never quite gotten off the ground for me …

I quite like “aerial” things – looking down at the world from altitude. I spend a lot of time on planes and I like looking down from high buildings. For years, I wanted to fly in a hot air balloon and, not so long ago, I did just that. The thing that I have never tried is parachuting.A view from the Empire State Building

I know that lots of people have jumped out of aircraft, secure in the belief that their parachute will deploy correctly and bring them down to Earth with only a gentle bump. My sister did it a while ago. My soon-to-be step-son has done it lots of times. I just cannot imagine actually stepping out of the back of a plane myself. My current excuse is that it might jolt the previously prolapsed disk in my back and that would be very painful and debilitating.

I did seriously consider parachuting once, long ago. I had just started at university – Bath, England in 1975. I went to the “Freshers’ Fair”, where all the clubs and societies were trying to drum up new members and separate students from their money. I went to chat with the two people from the parachuting club. They told me how wonderful it was – an experience not to be missed. Their charge for a season, which included full training and the first jump, was quite a lot, but was more reasonable than it might have been out in the real world. So, I was interested. But I was still wondering about the safety. I asked the people about their own experiences. The girl admitted that she had not yet made her first jump, but was excited that it would take place in a couple of weeks. The guy was experienced – he had made his first jump the previous term. And he only broke the one ankle.

I moved on and joined the Real Ale Society and have never looked back …

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at