No-one really wants to die do they? Well maybe some guys who have been told there are virgins waiting for them on the other side are keener than most, but I’m definitely signed up to the live-as-long-as-possible brigade.
However, if you are going to peg it then I reckon peacefully in your sleep is as good as you can hope for but, failing that, try for something quick but memorable that makes the evening news (whilst avoiding the Darwin Awards or ruining the rush hour commute for everyone).
I’m obviously not dead but as far as near death experiences go, I reckon I was close to ending my days in a quick and truly unique way…as a human kebab.
As is often the case, the shadow of death can appear in the nicest of settings and on this occasion it fell on me whilst holidaying on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura. Now, I can only assume that “Fuerteventura” is Spanish for “F**king Windy” as it seems to be perpetually blowing a gale there and sitting on the beach is like being sand-blasted in every orifice. (It didn’t mention this in the travel brochures though thinking back “great for windsurfing” was probably a clue).
I’ll admit now that I am not very good at beach holidays as I can only manage 10 minutes on a sun lounger before I get bored. Combine that with a perpetual sand-storm washing over me and it was not long before I was up and about and ready to explore – which basically meant walking up and down a featureless beach.
And so it was that I left my wife relaxing on her sun bed as I strolled casually along the beach; paddling my toes in the sea (as you do); gazing out to sea and generally enjoying a bit of me-time. Which is why I was slightly annoyed when my inner-peace was broken by my wife shouting “Matt”, “MAtt”, “MATT!” in an increasingly loud voice at me down the beach.
My first thoughts were “Dear God woman – have some dignity!” followed by “OK, just pretend I can’t hear her and she’ll stop” without realising she was actually trying to warn me that the shadow of death (or Shade of Death) was rapidly bearing down on me. OK – I’ll get to the point.
Sun-loungers in Fuerteventura are the standard type you find around the world but the sun umbrellas are much more hard-core. Due to the high winds they are made with a very thick, solid and extremely heavy metal shaft that is hammered about 2 foot into the ground to make sure it stays in place.
And stay in place they do, as long as a sunbather does not decide to pull it out the ground and casually re-position it with only a few inches of pole dug into the soft sand. When that happens the umbrella makes a break for freedom and spins end over end down the beach at a truly spectacular rate – and you’ve guessed it, that’s exactly what was taking place 300 metres behind me.
Certain things in life come down to a split second decision and so it was here. Deciding that I really had to stop my wife screeching my name down the beach I turned, only for the sharp point of the umbrella pole to pierce through the left hand side of my T-shirt; scrape across my chest and rip out through the other side – in effect sewing me onto the umbrella – as it continued its journey down the beach and out to sea.
I was still not really sure what was happening at this point as all I could see as I was being dragged into the surf was a stripy umbrella with a pair of Speedos tied to it. However, as a growing crowd fought to stop and eventually lower the umbrella I realised that only my split second decision to turn around had prevented that sharp point hitting me smack in the back like a javelin.
I was eventually un-stitched from the pole which had twisted my T-shirt into an impenetrably tight knot; thanked my rescuers and walked as nonchalantly as I could back up the beach. We stayed by the pool the rest of the week.