I was perched on a tree stump staring back at my pals who were sprawling around on the other side of a pond.
This went on for quite a long time with not much happening in between. They were waiting for me to jump; it was a boys’ dare, you see.
There was an air of expectation hanging in the summer sun and I think even frogs and newts in the pond stopped what they were doing to watch.
This episode did not happen in the last few days, obviously; I mean, look at my picture. I could barely clamber on a tree stump these days, let alone jump off one. I must have been nine at the time, but I have never forgotten the experience.
I was pretty sure I would not make it to the other side, but felt obliged to try after most of the bigger boys accomplished it. And they were waiting for so long I thought they might throw me in otherwise.
After numerous teetering false starts – like the moment of no return in a parachute – I finally launched myself .
And plunged straight in.
After they pulled me out I looked like the Hollywood “amphibious-humanoid” monster in Creature from the Black Lagoon. I was covered from head to toe in green slime with tadpoles hanging from my nose and ears.
My pals accompanied me home in an apparent show of camararderie and sympathy, but in reality I think they relished the prospect of witnessing my parents’ reaction.
It’s too painful to recount what happened when our front door opened. It took ages for the pond smell to recede from every crevice of our house. It was like a messy and chaotic boyhood scene in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
I have always been somewhat cautious since then about launching myself into uncharted waters.
This flashed across my mind with news about British tourists being allowed to visit the Canary Islands again. I was longing for this moment, but now it arrived I was paralysed by indecision. I thought back to my ducking in the pond. Now a similar fear about a rash move made me wary of parting with our cash.
So I was dithering and dallying about booking a holiday to Lanzarote. Potential pitfalls flooded my mind as though I was stuck on that tree stump again. And made worse by Facebook foaming with people booking like mad for these delightful Spanish islands, but also pictures of packed planes and queues outside Lanzarote airport.
I don’t know about canaries, but were these people acting like frenzied lemmings? Who would take a chance right now given what’s happening around us?
Particularly with Boris Johnson plunging England into lockdown again in a new desperate throw of the dice and Nicola Sturgeon’s “tiers for fears” (with apologies to 80s band Tears for Fears) making people think again in Scotland.
Both warn against anything other than essential travel.
But a brief check on the Foreign Office website yesterday showed the Canaries were still exempt from the travel ban, which was relaxed for them just over a week ago.
Lanzarote is a lovely little place, but I fear the Benidorm crowd will decamp there and ruin it. Or the Foreign Office will slam the door shut again.
I was expecting to book something without hesitation. After all, I demanded in past columns for the Canaries to be treated differently from mainland Spain. In fact, after reading signals from Government ministers and the travel industry, I predicted boldly a couple of months ago that the government was on the brink of exempting the Canaries.
I was almost right, but it took longer than anticipated. I admit a vested interest: I have a modest share in a villa in Lanzarote and two summer bookings were Covid-cancelled by airlines (one was a substitute for an earlier booking, which was also scrapped).
Hence my caution about jumping straight in. And the fact you can count on people to mess it all up by throwing caution to wind despite Covid-19. Maybe that is why the government delayed until the summer rush was over.
I hope an explosion of visitors does not spoil it for Lanzarote and its fellow Canaries
I will just bide my time and watch newly-liberated Lanzarote lovers from afar for a little longer before I press the “confirm your booking” button.
Yes, I am sitting on the fence or, rather, on my tree stump again.
David Knight is the long-serving former deputy editor of the Press and Journal