Alight Fingers Juggling and Circus Skills Workshops  

Balls To The Baltic - Latvia or Bust



We Laugh at Gravity

The plans for the evening were to go to an ‘anti-gravity’ room, and then to go to prison. I should point out at this point that it was a tour round an old disused prison, and we weren’t actually planning on getting arrested.  I should probably let my mum in on the joke at some point, as she still thinks I spent an evening in a Latvian jail, which I did, but not like that …

On the way Jonathan decided that he really had had enough of being a tourist. What he actually wanted to do was to put his feet up, and …. Have a cup of tea. Could they take him back to the flat please? I think part of it was also the fact that, let’s face it, being shown around somewhere as cheerful as a military prison is not most people’s idea of a good time, or evidently, not Jonathans cup of tea anyway.

“and, over here on the left is where people were locked up and miserable”

“and if you just look to your right, that’s where people were tortured and miserable”

“and up ahead, that’s where people were shot… which a few of them were really very unhappy about”

I must admit to having certain reservations myself on the matter. You’d have to be a special kind of person to truly appreciate that kind of thing, but I digress… I’m getting ahead of myself, the first part of the evening, having convinced Jonathan that he really did want to come along was a trip to the anti gravity room.

Now… given that Karostas was an old soviet military base, and we were going to something called the anti gravity room, I was expecting huge fans in the floor or something that they used for training parachutists, or even cosmonauts. I was thinking how much fun it would be to juggle in such a place. I was therefore a little surprised when we turned up at the seaside. I was even more surprised when I looked up, as albeit indirectly, there were turbines involved. We had parked directly under a wind powered electricity generator. It …was… huge. There was also enough wind that day to have powered most of Las Vegaski, which made for an interesting walk along the cliff tops.

The thing that made this bit of coastline specifically interesting was the huge line of ruined fortifications that once formed the sea defenses. Ironically, they were dynamited before the First World War began as a result of the friendship treaty signed between Germany and Russia in 1908. As you wander the cliff tops, stretching down to the places where you can get to the beach, there are various remains of what must have been a very impressive piece of coastal defense. There are still complete rooms standing, although, not necessarily at the angle they started life. As I half climbed and was half pulled into one at a specifically impressive angle, I understood what they meant by ‘anti gravity’. It’s amazing what standing in a room where the floor is at about thirty degrees to the horizontal does to your sense of balance. For a few seconds I actually felt seasick. It’s made all the more dramatic by the fact that there is a door at the bottom end of it that led to the beach…  directly … without there being any floor, steps, or parachutes to help you on your way. There were also great big holes in the floor, which I couldn’t quite work out what they were there for, other than to lead you to your doom. It was also very wet and slippery. In England, this place would have been cordoned off. Someone would have come along and put bars on the doors. It was quite frankly, dangerous. It was also really good fun. Fortunately, no one died, not even Anji, who insisted on leaning over the cliff tops on the way back to prove the wind was strong enough to hold him up there. That was a distinct case where if the wind had changed his face wouldn’t remain the same, because it would have been buried deep in the sand on the beach below.

On the way back to the batmobile we tried to take photo’s of everyone jumping in the air at the same time as the wind blew us all over the place. There are some things that are just significantly more difficult to do with digital cameras.

By the time we had driven back to the prison in Karostas I’d found a whole new source of energy and was feeling full of the joys of life. Perhaps it’s just something about being blown around the beach. Perhaps, I’m just wind powered myself. I’m not getting into what kind of wind. As we got out of the car, the last thing that was said was “Remember, they can’t touch you”. I remember thinking “What a bizarre thing to say”.



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