My usual Friday early morning routine is set in granite. It finds me sat atop the felled tree logs with my tin mug toppers with red-hot tea, observing my two Staffies as they mount a canine clearing patrol around the fields. Nothing can ever fault such a start to the day, no matter what the weather may be. Except this morning was different, a first even, because from behind my rosy position of solace, I could hear a ‘whine’ in the far distance (as I’m not married, and don’t have a wife, I instantly wrote that one off as the possible source)! The pitch grew louder causing me to look over my shoulder; just then two Typhoon FGR4 fighter-bombers flying ultra low level, screamed directly overhead, upon which they hit their after burners and powered into a vertical climb, like two home-sick angels.
The whine turned into a deafening roar of jet turbine engines, from which their super heated wash created a visible swirling turbulence. The canine clearing patrol appeared at the gallop from the long grass seeking refuge upon me, spilling the contents of my tin mug into the crutch of my rugby shorts. Bloody RAF. Bloody Staffies. Bloody hot tea… I watched the jets ride on until they were black dots, chuckling to myself whilst holding the material of my shorts away from my bare skin. The noise will have at least wound up ‘Mr. Angry’ from the village, which reminded me of a previous evolution…
One early morning last summer I received a caller at the door, it turned out to be the local busy body from the small village nearest to me (an ex-civil servant who I shall refer to as ‘Major Blunder’, due to his dated pompous arrogance, colonial attire, abrupt clipped speech, and walrus moustache). A neatly printed form attached to a clipboard was thrust in front of me, with an order (not a polite request) to read & sign the petition; with his finger tapping on the spot next to my address, with ‘name unknown’ next to it. I can also do rude and bad manners when required, which I did, on my doorstep. A full blistering barrage, that brought the devil to attention, and stopped the horses grazing in the adjoining field. Major Blunder left with a flea in each ear… that probably irritated him for the rest of his day. <— Similar version of Major Blunder.
Major Blunder’s petition was an action being passed around the villages within the Parish boundary. It was aimed at stopping the RAF from conducting early morning, and late evening training flights, both by fast jets as well as choppers. When I checked my mail later, I also found a flier full of bureaucratic procedure that only an ex-uncivil servant could have put together, though it did contain details for a planned meeting in the local village hall covering the same issue. Three days later I attended the meeting early, and landed a seat in the front row. All who dwell within a country village worth their salt will attend such a meeting, as it is the done thing and expected, it’s English, it’s traditional. Bah~Humbug to those who decline!
A veritable host of bribes refreshments had been laid on, which someone had taken their time presenting, it also included fresh tea and coffee, with plain digestive, and milk chocolate biscuits! Major Blunder I presume? The great man appeared and called the meeting to order, with a small committee aside him presiding on an elevated platform, looking over the great unwashed below. After much discussion to and fro, the eventual consensus of opinion of the gathering appeared to be that although the noise from the aircraft could be loud when the weather was over cast, it was also bearable. It was obvious from the flight patterns that the sorties also changed quite frequently, switching their aerobatic dogfights from land, to the heavens over the North Sea. I waited until the very end to have my say, and fired one barrel over the heads of the gathered crowd as a safety shot. Not many, if any know of my past, of which I prefer
As I addressed the multitude, I obviously spoke against the petition. Jet-powered aircraft create intense noise from aerodynamics, which is affected greatly by atmospheric pressure and weather conditions, etc, etc. I spoke of the importance of pilot training throughout the military, and how others and I had required the assistance of fast jets as well as choppers throughout my previous life as a Bootneck. In addition I asked them to think of those serving now, who, when in contact with the enemy close up and personal, could end up severely maimed or badly wounded casualties. Their chances of survival required skilled pilots flying the blood chariots with medics to extract them. Or they may well require ordnance from fast jets, delivered danger close to their own positions to stave of attacks. I purposely kept the controlled rant short and sweet, which must have hit a raw nerve, as several couples asked for their names to be withdrawn from the petition.
I saved the second barrel for Major Blunder and his rag tag committee, which I blatantly aimed at his outmoded heart, and gently, squeezed the trigger. I asked them not to take my words for granted, and mentioned that I could arrange a visit to HEADLEY COURT, The Defence Medical Rehabilitation service from where they could hear first hand accounts of the bravery of such pilots flying blind in medevac dust off’s, or pilots conducting strafing runs danger close. This from those whose lives had been saved through the same selfless commendable action’s. I waited for a response, which was met by a wall of silence, and ‘eyes to the floor’ embarrassment. Thought not!
At the end of the meeting, I declined the proffered 30 pieces of silver cup of tea and biscuits, as well as the social banter that would normally follow. Shortly after I heard that the whole petition formulated by Major Blunder had crashed and burned. A feeling I knew well, as my tin mug of tea had been quite fresh and hot when it was doused over my lap, through the
sheer panic fighting withdrawal action conducted by Hannah & Joss as they made their way back to my position. C’est la guerre… Yours Aye.