There was the anticipation as I eagerly eyed her curves, knowing that soon it’d all be over. There was the nervousness, what if I chickened out? What if it wasn’t the amazing experience I’d always imagined it to be, a bitter let down to feel bad about for ever more? Even worse, what if she made me vomit?
Slowly I eased myself in, protection in place... hoping it won’t fail. Then it started, the build up, slowly rising and rising to a climax before all that tension was released.
Swerving around the track banking to the right then down, down, down, that first drop straight into a hard right turn followed by the set piece – the double corkscrew hammering you down into your seat.
It wasn’t a letdown, it was exhilaration. A totally joyous experience that confirmed what I already knew – I was a rollercoaster junkie and The Corkscrew had taken my virginity. My first inversion, my first ride.
Sure, there are older, more revered coasters in the UK – The Big Dipper at Blackpool perhaps being the grandest of dames but there was something special about The Corkscrew. She was my first. Whenever I returned to Alton Towers I always secretly, mentally gave her a nod of respect for that fact. Sure in her later years she didn’t quiet have the kick. You were more likely to come off with a bad neck than a joyous high but we had a connection. The fact that we were both born just a week apart for one thing.
With the news that I’m soon to be a father I also had a secret hope. A desire to share my unborn child’s first coaster ride. A hobby we could share, not now obviously but in ten or so years time. Mentally I’d always hoped that his first ride would be mine – The Corkscrew at Alton but alas it’s not to be for today she dispatched her final ride.
Smeg, I hear you cry, it’s just a ride just a hunk of metal. There will be other coasters. Yes, you’re right of course but to passionate football fans is the old Wembley just an old stadium or a passionate symbol of football dreams? Is that building on the high street that’s all boarded up a rotting pile of bricks and mortar or is it the night club were you once shared your first kiss? Is your first car just a piece of metal on a scrapheap somewhere or a fond memory of your first taste of independence?
To me the Corkscrew is a special symbol of one of my beloved passions and she’ll be much missed.