After All These Years

It is ten to 12 years since I last did it professionally, but I am happy to know that I can still walk on stilts.

It’s actually the easiest of all the circus skills to pick up, very much a confidence trick.

If you want to know what it feels like, all you need to do is to bend your toes up and walk on your heels. You’ll most likely find that you can’t stand still for too long; you have to keep taking lots of little steps, to keep your balance. Walking on stilts is almost exactly the same feeling, even if you are two metres off the ground.

Two pairs of stilts have stood beside James’ wardrobe all these years, as I haven’t had the heart to throw them out. James has been systematically tidying his room lately (none too soon!) and last week he found the stilts and wondered if he could try them out.

His friends, Daniel and Kate, arrived just as we were organising some firm straps to tie the stilts on with. They took it in turns to sit on the big brick letterbox while I made sure they were secure. Then I held their hands and got them to do some safety drills: lifting their legs at the knees; taking a step backwards to stop them falling that way.

“Can you still do it?” Daniel asked.

“I’ll have a go,” I said.

James showed his concern as I was strapping myself on.

“Are you sure you should do this, Dad? With your injured arm?”

“I’ll only fall over if I want to,” I assured him.

And when I stood up, it all came back to me in an instant. It was just like riding a bike –or a unicycle. I strode confidently across the grass, along the footpath. I skipped from stilt to stilt, even did a jump. And then, when I had had enough, I showed them all the safe way to fall: knees first.

It wasn’t until the next day that I felt the extent to which my thigh muscles had been stretched, in a way they once knew well, but hadn’t felt for years.

amberdextrous amberdextrous
51-55, M
3 Responses Mar 5, 2010

I walk on peg stilts for fun and exercise. Been going cross-country on pegs up to 3ft tall for over 30 years. Now I am 66 and still enjoy the thrill of being up high


Stilts~ :) When I was a child--everyone had stilts...I'd completely forgotten how much fun they were.