Danger

I’m saving up. It’s February, the credit card’s paid off and I’m putting cash away as fast as I can… for a new sofa. Now before your eyes glaze over and you start scanning the page for quick ways back to the home page, there is a very real and dangerous reason for this bold, bold step of mine. You see: I have a perfectly good, (almost) new sofa already. I’m certainly not expanding – my front room wouldn’t take two sofas and I don’t have enough regular visitors to get my money’s worth of sitting. No – the problem is this – ‘danger’ has become the social smart drug of the year 2000. And my sofa won’t be able to cope. I shall explain.

Like most people, I have a group of friends who are basically, crossbred hippies and yuppies (yipees?). Like all hippy folk, they like to go travelling – but that’s only because their top city jobs give them 30 days-a-year paid holiday, bless. Top pastimes in these regular breaks include snowboarding, white water rafting, and skydiving – in fact it always contains at least one activity that is made up of two of the words from the following collection (water, snow, ice, surf, air, skating, boarding, diving) added together.

I tried snowboarding once, and being an extremely average skier (I can go, I can stop, I can turn – anything else is showing off), I found that you needed a fair amount of upper body strength. This is because when you fall over you can only use your arms to right yourself – and seeing as your legs are practically cuffed together, you fall over a lot. I remember trotting back to the hire shop with the board after 2 hours of said torture and listening to the man there using his pigeon English to rally me back onto the slopes. “No more,” I said. “No more?” he cried. “You must have faith! You must have courage!” No. “I must have SKIS.” But years after this nightmare, people are still harping on to me about the near death excitement they pay through the nose for. Their brown runs. Their black runs. Hell, the photographs they’re bringing back are giving ME the runs. What is this fascination with entertaining near-death experiences in a foreign country? Surely that’s why people join the army?

And it’s not just a fad – it’s a style statement. The rush of mortal danger is the new drug of the millennium – and I’m Captain Spod for staying at home. “Come bunjee-ice-death-boarding!” they cry. “Where’s your sense of adventure?” Sense of adventure? If I want a 50/50 chance of instant suicide, I’ll save myself the airfare thanks – I’ll just get out the bath and do the light switch a few times while my hands are wet. Oooh! Life on the edge!

But where does my sofa come in? Well – it’s like this. In 2000, the danger drug is coming to your home – as horror films. Scream 3 broke all box office records for a horror in the US last week – and now you genuinely CAN have that earth shattering mortality rush in the comfort of your own home. I watched The Mummy last week and by the end I was shaking, sweating, wide-eyed and hyperventilating – and it’s not usually those sort of videos that have that effect. I went to put the vid back in its case and I saw the cover – 12? 12???? This was a 12? I looked behind me at my sofa. My buttocks had clenched so hard round the cushions I’d practically ripped out a chunk of foam. If this is how we’re all going to be getting our kicks this year, the sofa won’t last till Easter.