About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Vertigo By Holly Searle


I have no idea why I am scared of heights, but I am. The very thought of being in a high-rise building seems an unnatural state of being to me. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it.

It freezes my blood, my legs turn to jelly and if you could see inside my head, it would no doubt resemble Edward Munch's painting The Scream.

It is that bad.

I kid you not, last year when I was in New York, we were staying, my daughter and I, in a hotel on the twenty-fourth floor. I couldn't even comprehend the effect that this would have one me, and on the last night, as I lay in bed, I felt as though I was falling. The room literally felt as if it was moving.

During the course of the same trip, we ventured out one day to the Empire State Building. Standing in the plush lobby, I turned to my daughter and informed her that I didn't think that I would be able to leave terraferma, and take the lift to the eighty something floor to visit the famous viewing platform. I actually cried as I felt I was letting her down. But the fear of something unnatural, is a fear that cannot be reasoned with.

She was pretty good about it and said not to worry, but that she wanted to go, so off she did, on her own.

So I waited in the lobby.

I then experienced a dreadful pang of guilt as I had sent my first-born child off on her own without her life long protector, to stand on a viewing platform located far too high above street level for my liking.

Major panic and stress engulfed me for the entire time that she was away from me, until she returned.

When she did, I asked what it was like. A bit high, came her response.

I have come to conclude that there must be two types of people; those that have no response to heights, and those, just like me, that do.

The funny thing is, I have no issue with travelling on a plane. The only issue I have with flying, is the time that it takes, the noise, and other people.

If I had my way, and money was no option, I would quite happily charter my own personal jet, with no other passengers on board, who insist on chattering on their mobiles moments prior to take off, or having to put up with their unruly screaming children.

So, plane height flights don't worry me. Odd, but true.

Apart from New York, I can think of several other occasions when I froze or felt sick, due to the height of my location.

Once in Paris, many, many years ago, I stood looking up at the Montparnasse Tower. I was on a short trip to the city with my mother. She wanted us to visit the bar in the tower which was situated somewhere near the top.

I looked up at the tower, mentally placed my hands on my hips, took a sharp intake of breath, exhaled, and confessed to her that I doubted I would be able to make the trip with her.

My mother's response, was to match my anxiety, by telling me that I could either stay where I was, or go with her.

It was a Mexican stand-off. She had me, so I gave it and agreed to go.

I can remember standing in the lift, with my back up against the wall, and my legs shaking. I think she thought I was being a mare, but I wasn't, I was simply trying to ready myself to face my fear.

As comic book beads of sweat formed on my forehead, the lift doors opened on to the floor of the bar. On jelly legs I walked out. Shall we sit by the window, my mother enquired. You're just talking the piss now I thought. From what I can recall, we sat near to the window. Oh well, I surmised, at least I hadn't been abandoned on the streets of Paris.

But this was by no means my worst ever experience with a tall building.

I shall have to fast forward several years to tell you about that.

My good friend Chris (who ironically now lives in New York, but not in a high-rise building), was living in a flat just off Baker Street in central London.

I can't recall as to why we were paying him a visit, there must have been an occasion, but it escapes me now. His flat was located quite high up I remember, and as my little daughter and I arrived at his front door, he greeted us, and introduced us to another mother and her child. Chris made the introductions, and we all exchange a friendly hello.

Now, Chris' flat had a balcony. It had an enclosed waist-high barrier, but, there was also a handrail, that ran along the length of the balcony.

My daughter and I stole a glance, and that was enough. I told my daughter to come in, where I could keep an eye on her.

The other visitor's child, a boy, however, was strangely drawn to the balcony. And while the adults were chatting away inside, I noticed that he was still out there.

My daughter curiously drawn to him, as children invariably are to one another, went to see what he was doing. When I looked to see what she was looking at, I nearly threw-up.

He had positioned himself with his feet against the enclosed wall, with his hands on the rail, and was rolling himself in an upward motion, not unlike a circus performer, who is about to perform an acrobatic feat.

My mind made the very quick calculation, that if he repeated this motion, he was risking propelling himself over the rail, and heading for the pavement far far below.

I remember making a noise not that dissimilar to the one that Emma Thompson makes when Hugh Grant explains the misunderstanding of their situation in the final moments of Sense and Sensibility, which in turn, drew Chris' attention to what I was witnessing. He very quickly called to the child, and made him come in, and the drama was averted.

I can still feel the fear in the pit of my stomach as I recall this incident. For many weeks after that day, I had waking nightmares about that child going over the edge of that balcony and crashing out of this mortal coil forever.

That fear was no doubt instilled in every parent, in retrospect of the horrific accident involving Eric Clapton's son.

It was pretty damn scary, and I doubt that the boy has any recollection of this event at all, but I know Chris does, and so do I.

Tall buildings, you can keep them for people who like a view.

Me, I'll always kiss the ground, and thank feck that I have my two feet firmly planted on its surface any day of the week.

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