For Essex Book Festival 2018 we invited Ruth Raymer to be writer-in-residence at Jaywick Martello Tower. Ruth spent a week at the tower, talking with visitors, writing and delivering writing workshops. Let’s Go Fly a Kite was used as a basis for storytelling as part of our Festival Finale on 31 March.
Let’s Go Fly a Kite
She let go! I’m here, swinging in the sun because she let go. Ellie’s delicate hands were wrapped tightly around me; small, slender fingers topped with pearlescent creamy fingernails. Her thumb is wrinkled and reddened from sucking it, though at least while she was holding on to me it was gainfully employed.
In those giddy seconds of initial flight, it felt exhilarating to be free. Exhilaration, though, quickly gave way to the realisation that because she has let go, I have no way to control my own destiny. My life had been in her hands but in that millisecond when she became distracted by her father, I was disconnected from all life as I knew it. Like a reluctant dog on a lead, after some initial coaxing I was able to soar above, yet, still with an earthly connection, I was secure – safe.
But here I am, neither earthbound nor flying, but swinging on a wire that caught me when Ella let go all those months ago. The sun was glorious that day and there were so many people on the beaches, there to watch the air show. Planes of all kinds displaying their skill over the sea and beach to the delight of the tens of thousands gathered to see them. There was quite literally not a cloud on the horizon. In the morning there had been kite surfers in one of the bays and I watched enviously as the brightly coloured sails pulled their payload out across the water and jumping wave after wave. How I wish I could have had one of those sails.
Once the planes were about to begin their display, a tannoy announced that all kites should be stowed away and should not be let loose until the planes had ended the display. All swimmers and water sportsmen were to get out of the water too. Another announcement would be made to let the people know when it was once again safe to play. And that’s when it happened.
At first there was a scream, but it seemed to tail off into the breeze, then I realized it was me moving freely in the wind and away from the screams of the child. Just as suddenly, there was a jerk as the wires caught my arms and I came to a dead stop. As the wind caught my tail I was sent spinning for a few moments, just enough to ensure there would be no escape. Below me, Ellie was stood sobbing, ‘I want my kite Daddy. Get my kite back.’
Her father stood with his hand shielding his eyes from the sun, looking up at me and then shaking his head woefully.
‘That kite is going nowhere sweetie, and Daddy can’t reach it.’
‘But it’s mine and I need it,’ the child wailed.
He dragged her away uttering begrudging promises of buying another, soon.
So, I was abandoned, in August at the height of the Summer season. My neon colours were bright and bold then and my tail a full three feet long. Lime green, tangerine orange, and acid yellow, all joined together with white tape. The same white tape formed the length of my tail, then bows of green, orange and yellow all along its length. My captor; a thick, black telegraph line, hums all day and night. When it rains, it hums even more……….
Jaywick Martello Tower Writer-in-Residence
Essex Book Festival March 2018
The above was used as the basis for storytelling inside the tower on Saturday 31st March, when children were asked to complete the story by talking through what they thought the kite might have witnessed in its months hanging on the wire outside the tower in 2017/18 and what it might have seen were it to have been there one hundred years ago at the end of the First World War.