snapdragon during

rehearsals
Sowerby Bridge
13th April 1991

we were speeding up the stunt
that had been going so well
the whole year before
me on the stage
hands in straps
rope up to a pulley
across to a second pulley
and down to two people
high up in the netting
when they jumped
I would fly up fast
the audience would freak
as I hit the roof above their heads

my mate’s feet were hurting
from hitting the ground
the rope was shortened
no one thought it through
he would now take the weight
on his hands
so down he went
his hands pulled free
I no longer had
a counter balance

I hit the rigging bar
way too hard
everything much too fast
my body went horizontal
and then time went weird
dilated
looking at my clothes
all blue with red bumper boots
seemed to go on and on
just hanging there
all weightless
and utterly certain
that nothing in this world
was going to stop me falling
all the way way down
to that hard hard stage

next thing I saw myself
from over on the empty seating
long enough to think both
“oh, so that’s what I look like”
and
“what the FUCK am I doing over here?”

then

the abyss

no light anywhere
no stars
no world
no body
just a point of consciousness
in an infinite void
I don’t have the language
to get it across
words like “terror” and “fear”
just point in the right direction
and that was only the start

after a while it became clear
that if I went to my right
I would re-enter my body
that was where all the pain was
so I didn’t want to do that
then if I went to my left
I would never again
be back inside my body
and just stay in that void
alone forever

you can’t die if you have no body

it felt like maybe twenty minutes
I floated in that dread
until I thought my point of awareness
would fly apart with stress
an arm came around me
“come with me Hughie, it’s ok”
and it wizzed me
through immense distances
at bewildering speed
and put me
exquisitely gently
back inside my body
between my shoulder blades
the single most painful moment
of my life

Mr Gasket