BY Ian Dunn | September 1 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


A leap of Faith

SCO editor Ian Dunn takes a dive off Glasgow’s Titan Crane, and survives to tell the tale of the Catholic charity who inspired his jump.

I must confess, as I prepared to plummet down towards the murky grey waters of the Clyde I thought something extremely uncharitable and unprintable about St Mungo. Now, I’ve been fairly fond of ­Glasgow’s patron saint. Having adopted Glasgow as my home many years ago, I was happy enough to adopt its saint as well.

The little rhyme of his miracles often rattled around my head as I strolled around the streets of the Dear Green Place, lending a touch of the supernatural to the squat solidity of city.

Here is the bird that never flew, here is the tree that never grew, here is the bell that never rang, here is the fish that never swam.

I’ve also been known to remark that the breadth of his saintly portfolio, including those accused of infidelity and the bullied, shows a man of great ­diversity and no little compassion.

But standing atop the Titan Crane, 150ft above the earth, all that was ­forgotten as it was his fault I was there.

The charity that bears his name, the Mungo Foundation, had asked me to do a bungee jump for them, and being a fool I had accepted. That sense of ­foolishness was reinforced when the instructor told our group of seven that I would be going first.

I was chosen for this because I was clearly the bravest—but for some reason he mispronounced it ‘heaviest.’

Despite my natural courage being flagged up, it was hard not to feel a few nerves. Being Glasgow, the rain was lashing down and what I’m sure would be a spectacular view was closed off by deep heavy clouds as far as the eye could see. Or at least that’s how it seemed standing on top of the Titan Crane. ­Towering over the river, it’s a powerful reminder of Glasgow’s industrial past. Theses days it’s a tourist attraction—and a place for ejits like me to do charity bungee jumps.

But the land all around it is waste land. And though I could just about make out the glittering heart of the city away up the river, it’s a pretty obvious metaphor that though Glasgow has largely left behind ship building, a lot of communities and people got left behind as well. One man who spotted that early, was the late Cardinal Thomas Winning, who set up what would become the Mungo Foundation in the 1970s.

They’re not as well known as they should be—because the work they do isn’t hugely glamorous—but the people they help are the ones who need it most.

Homeless teenagers, older people ­without families, people with dementia, child refugees abandoned in this ­country with no parents and no support, people with life-long alcohol and other drug problems. The hard cases, the sort other people give up on.

The people they help really need it and they people I’ve met who work for them are the best of the best. Tough, but compassionate. As good as Glasgow has to offer. I tend to think St Mungo is ­quietly chuffed to be associated with them.

So when I finally got up on the edge of the crane and looked down it wasn’t really that hard to jump. 150ft into the Clyde is nothing compared to the falls suffered by some of the people helped by the Mungo Foundation.

So I offered a quick prayer to St Mungo and leapt into the unknown.

Now I’ll grant you that initial moment of terror may have made me briefly uncharitable—my wife watching from the ground suggested that I travelled through the air with the grace of a     man who’d just had a stroke—but       my faith that someone would catch me was repaid.

As I was winched back up to the crane I felt total elation—I had survived.

I returned to earth to watch the other Mungo Foundation jumpers complete their leaps with considerably more aplomb and style than I.

As the last member of the team was winched back to the crane, the clouds broke and ­brilliant blue skies charged out behind the sun. Typical of Glasgow, I thought: rain, tension and a moment of total terror—but it all turned out fine at the end.

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