I love flying kites. A gentle tweak of the wrists for a tight spiralling turn, or diving vertiginously only to haul it back from the brink can be tremendous fun and extraordinarily satisfying. Flying from a beach, or hilltop or breezy common certainly makes you feel you truly are ‘up where the air is clear’.
In the final scenes of Mary Poppins, practically half of ole’ Lahndun Tahhn descends on the park and stands in a line, kite-strings stretching high into the bright blue sky. Everything is right with the world, families are united.
With tuppence for paper and strings, you can have your own set of wings.
With your feet on the ground, you’re a bird in flight!
But, like the little girl with the little curl, when it’s good, it can be very very good. But when it’s bad, it’s horrid.
Launching a kite isn’t an easy thing to complete on your own, least of all if you’re only 6. Struts and strings have to be connected, assembled and untangled, and then there’s the business of actually getting it up in the air. This needs patience, and even then if the wind gusts in the Wrong Way, you won’t be sending your kite soaring so much as watching it stutter and fall to earth. After, say, 8 or 9 aborted flights, the attention span of many kids (and adults) has waned, especially when the recent promise of an icecream is still hanging in the air (unlike the kite).
So when this happens, as it did on our last excursion to Minchinhampton Common, don’t do as I did and persevere, hoping against hope that it will come good. When asked “why isn’t it working”, don’t reply through gritted teeth with barely-suppressed rage, just give it up. Put the kite down, sit on the grass and enjoy the icecream. That’s something all the family can enjoy.