This Is Not For You diary


Carole King – First day of training

I arrived at Paddington Station to be greeted by snow. Not sure what to expect, I feel like a rabbit in the head lights. I do know one thing, I am truly out of my comfort zone not being at home. First of all my fears of falling, getting lost and confused start as soon as I get off the train. Also I stress and struggle with stairs and escalators on the London Underground. I could turn back but this is not an option, as I will be letting down the team and, most of all, myself.

In April 1983, I joined the Women’s Royal Army Corp, where I served in the UK and B.A.O.R (British Army of the Rhine) as a Supply Specialist. Whilst serving I had a trampoline accident which led to many operations on my back and knee to bring me back to full military fitness. Alas this was not meant to be, so I was medically discharged in May 1990. I came to work for the NAFFI (The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) at 42 Coy RM in Devon, still having to have more operations to my leg. I left NAFFI service and came to live in Exmouth. In 2006, I chose elected surgery to have my left leg amputated from above the knee. This choice was not taken lightly, but was the best for quality and a healthier life.

Blesma helped me find suitable accommodation.  I have grown with Blesma in confidence and how I present myself as a mum, and carrying a disability. Through Blesma’s Community Drive Project we learnt much more about ourselves and how to tell our stories. Now, I am with Graeae Theatre and taking the story to another level in aerial art. Wow, this is going to be amazing. Blesma put out the call for females, never one to give up on a challenge and here I am.

As I wait in the foyer, the Blesma members start to arrive and off we went to begin our session. We were introduced to the day by doing a quick warm up. We then split into twos and threes for our initial physical assessments.

We went through a series of exercises and although I do exercises at home, I was surprised to see how unfit I was. Some exercises I could do but need to gain more strength in my core to be stronger. The aerial part I struggled with as my hands were slipping on the rope part of the assessment, and I could not swing from standing. This is a new practice that I have never used before. My shoulder strength was very poor and I could not pull myself up onto the swing. Very disappointed that I could not do this task.

This was not at all what I thought, but found although very hard to do what was asked of me, I tried my best. But with the reassurance from Jez and the instructor, they said and felt that with more training I could master this. They will be doing a schedule for us all to do at home. Up to now I thought I did very well on my limb, and thought I should do the exercises with my limb off. I have however, taken the step to keep my prosthetic leg on, this will give me more confidence than being vulnerable to falls without it on.

Aerial performance is a completely new thing for me but as a trampolinist heights are okay. To be back in a troop of like-minded people, to grow and see where we started and to where we will end we will give me back the confidence that I have lacked over that last 2 years. I can’t sit back anymore and what a way to say ‘hey I’m back and raring to go.’


Billy Drinkwater
Have a listen to veteran, Billy Drinkwater as he tells us what he’s learned during his first day of training at the National Cente of Circus Arts.




Saturday 30 June & Sunday 1 July
Performance times tbc
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, London

Thursday 2 August 8.30pm
Friday 3 August 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Stockton International Festival, Stockton-on-Tees

Please check back soon for information on performance times and venues.