Since it’s St Patrick’s Day, here’s my tale of miniature mayhem from this time three years ago.
The firework display was nearly at an end. There was a dull Thud! from one last concealed mortar, and a dim stream of reddish sparks shot upwards through the dark. The crowd watched, expecting The Big One. They were not disappointed. There was an ear-splitting explosion, and a perfect sphere of orange, white, and green stars appeared. At the same time a bank of rockets fired off, and as each reached its zenith it disgorged more orange, white, and green stars, each attached to a tiny parachute. These stars from the rockets, instead of falling to earth, drifted slowly across the smoke-streaked sky, swaying gently under their parachutes in the barely perceptible breeze.
Nobody except me noticed the one parachute that drifted with no star blazing underneath it. Nobody heard the tiny shrill voice screaming in my earpiece, ‘Wooooohooooooo! Holy shit! What a rush! I mean, man, that’s just the fucking ultimately insane! Ride ‘em cowboy!’ My friend Jax O’Bourne, adrenalin junkie leprechaun, had achieved his life’s ambition.
It’s easier than you may expect to be an adrenalin junkie, an XTreem sports addict, if you’re only about two inches tall. Jax had started off at a fairly low level, from the age of 14 hotwiring radio controlled cars. You know those radio controlled things you get at amusement parks? You put some money in a slot, and the radio controlled car you’ve paid to play with gets crashed into? There’s a car that hurtles round and round in circles playing at Demolition Derby? That was probably Jax in there, sitting in a shower of sparks from the shorted out batteries, and furiously kicking at the steering rack. From there it was but a short step to twocking* those petrol powered scale off-road racers. If you’ve got one of those, and it suddenly refuses to obey your commands, it’s Jax.
Jax was one of the first leprechauns to develop white-water kayaking, using a handbuilt kayak made from a kazoo he found in a discarded party bag, and the lower part of a condom for the gasket to prevent water getting in. He started off relatively modestly, honing his skills in the water features at his local aquatics centre, and moving on to greater things. His biggest achievement to date has been rafting the entire sequence of cascades in the Water Garden at Glendalough House in County Wicklow, and in doing so travelling the complete distance from the mill feeder pond to the Main Pond on the front lawn.
Jax has always been an avid bungee jumper, and has jumped off Dublin’s Ha’Penny Bridge on a rope made from the elastic strands in a single green hair scrunchie. He has also ‘flown’ from the roof of the Guinness brewery in St James Gate to Butts Bridge on Burgh Quay wearing a wingsuit made from an A4 sized polypocket cut down to size.
Freediving is another of Jax’s pastimes. Few leprechauns will forget his lung-crushing plunge to the bottom of the shark tank in Sea World at Bray. It was at the same venue that he set a new All Comer’s record (5½ inches) for a piranha caught with a handheld toothpick. An incident with an electric catfish nearly cost him his life.
Jax loves the idea of snowboarding, but he’s somewhat hampered by the lack of snow in Ireland. He has put in a few hours on the artificial slopes at the ski centre in Sandyford, not far from the Stillorgan Industrial Park. He narrowly avoided being crushed by a member of the Dutch national ski team, who practice there not because there’s a lack of snow in the Netherlands, but a lack of hills. Jax has also spent some fruitful time at Malin Head in Northern Ireland, where there is hail on 48 days of the year.
In 2007, Jax travelled to the England, and to Thamesmead School in Middlesex, where they were holding a charity balloon race. After stowing away on one of the red balloons, he ended up in Middleton near Saxmundham in Suffolk, a distance of over 160 km (100 miles.) Some of his other finest results have been in England too. In 2012 he became the first person to free climb the world’s tallest and extremely colourful, Lego tower (Legoland Windsor, 32m approx. 105′,) and then BASE jump off it. That night he spent alone in the graveyard at the model village just up the M40 in Bekonscot, another first for this notoriously haunted place. Then he travelled down to Kew Gardens, and spent two weeks living off the land in the Tropical House.
If you ask Jax what his greatest achievement was, before the rocket trip, he’d have his answer at the ready. He invented the sport of tube surfing. Not riding the outside of the DART trains. No, travelling in the money pods that supermarkets transport around the store using pneumatic delivery systems. Jax has even surfed the famous Colossus tube system at Europe’s biggest hypermarket, the Tesco in Naas, Co. Kildare. That was a ‘real fucking headrush man,’ even if he did have to wait nearly an hour for someone to open the door to the cash office so he could get out.
So what next for Jax, the man on the thin edge? Who can tell? Even he probably doesn’t know yet. Now I’d better go and find him and get him back to civilisation. For now. I am his manager after all. It’s the least I can do in the circumstances.
*Footnote. In the UK, stealing a car is known as ‘taking without owner’s consent,’ hence twoc, hence twocking as a neologism.