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A Shout From The Attic: The June Years - 9

Ronnie Bray tells of kites which showed no tendency to fly.

Flying Kites

Ah! foolish kite, thou hast no wing,
How couldst thou fly without a string?
My heart reply'd, `O Lord! I see
How much this kite resembles me’
(Anon.)

There is little in life more wonderful than a kite that takes to the air and behaves itself. I have never had one of those, and neither has Matthew.

My Dad, Tommy Scott, made my first kite from bamboo pea sticks and butcher’s greaseproof paper when I was about ten years old. He made the kite on the kitchen table and fastened it together with string and glue. Taking a ball of string, we went along to the Rifle Fields with no word spoken either way, and none invited. At the part of the old Rifle Fields that had not been built on, the string was attached to the kite’s crux, and I was sent to hold it up and run while my Dad held the string aloft, waiting to catch the wind.

No wind came, and the kite showed no tendency to rise. Each time I responded to the shouted “Let it go!” from my Dad, the kite fell straightway to the floor with a thud and a rustle. After a series of abortive attempts to loft the kite, the air show was declared a disaster and abandoned sine die. We walked home even quieter than we had gone out, no comment, no explanations, and the die never sined.

I never did know what had prompted Dad to build me a kite, so I can only speculate. However, since you can speculate for yourself there is no point both of us getting it wrong. There had been nothing before and there was nothing after. It was never mentioned in the house. The event was allowed to fall and lie there, just as the kite had.

When Matt was four, we moved to Ipswich to marry June. The day came when Matt wanted a kite and so I bought him one, remembering what home-made kites were good for. “Made in China,” it announced on the fabric as we assembled it. The Chinese knew about kites, so my confidence soared and I hoped that the kite would follow suit.

We repaired to a piece of common land off Heath Road, and tied the string to the kite. Matt did the running, and I held the string as high as I could to encourage the kite to hold the wind and fly. It failed every time. After some futile attempts, Matt marched smartly off to the side of the common and knelt in prayer against the bank. My heart filled with love for his faithfulness only to break when his prayer did not help the wind to blow or the kite to fly. I think I knew how disappointed he felt.

What a pity it is when so much depends on an event, that we have no power to control it and make it a success. On these occasions, a bridge might have been built, and a young boy’s faith might have caught on fire. Yet life has to make its way through terminal disappointments to reach the synthesis that lies beyond failure and defeat, beyond pain and calamity, that enables us to create valuable lives on the bedrock of defeat. To this end, it can be a blessing that our kites do not fly, so long as we do not take it as a sign that we should stop trying, for it is the success that lies on the other side of failure that is our aim in life.

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