For the past four days when not worrying about the internet I have sat outside in the unseasonably warm ( 32C) temperatures in my deckchair rather like some 1940 Battle of Briton fighter pilot in that hot September of 1940. One eye reading my book or newspaper and the other on the phone lying on the grass beside me waiting for it to ring and tell me to come grape picking . I imagined myself racing to the car and taking off up the drive shouting tally ho to Geraldine ( she says I have too much imagination) but the phone has stayed silent.
On Monday I read a blog by an American girl living in Milan who said if you didn’t speak the language fluently you would always remain simply a visitor to Italy. Harsh I had thought thinking of my own attempts to learn a language that seems to have three different words for every single English word but by yesterday I started to wonder whether Arcangelo had decided that trying to get this crazy foreigner with his Serbo Croat sounding Italian to do things was a waste of time and he would quietly do the picking himself.
Ye of little faith or the Italian equivalent I was told yesterday at dinner by an Italian friend. Arcangelo has decided to delay picking until next week. He feels the grapes need longer on the vine they need to maturare ( yes even I managed to guess that one).
So this Squadron of one was stood down and could happily go to the pub for a beer and talk about prangs and barrel rolls until next Monday when the phone rings with Arcangelo shouting “Scramble Scramble” Mike.
Talking of Squadrons the paper today has a petition signed by people living outside of Taranto complaining about the noise of low flying Italian Navy jets who have been taking to the skies with almost gay abandon over the last couple of weeks. The paper thinks they are practicing for a potential attack on Syria but the Navy deny this though accepting the flights are more frequent than before.
They are certainly coming over our house every few hours at low level probably to view a 1940 fighter pilot sitting on a deckchair in his garden !
Now as someone that earned his living working with airplanes I have never felt I could nor should complain about their noise so I would give such petitions a wide berth. But I can see how this sudden appearance of 2 to4 F19 fighters might scare the daylights out of some people and animals.
One of my aviation jobs also had me running Plymouth City Airport in the West Country. This airport was surrounded by houses and had its own Residents Association and a “Close The Airport” protest group that consisted of the same people. I met with them once a month and listened to their complaints about aircraft engine running etc. I had researched and found that not a single person in the houses around the airport had been in their house before the airport was built and aircraft flying. All bought knowing their houses backed on to an airport and all hoped to close the airport and make a killing with a house that backed onto a grassy flatland where rabbits gamboled ( or is that lambs?) and birds twittered. Be careful what you wish for I would council them. The airport did close a few years back and Plymouth Council who owned the land under it announced an huge social housing estate would be built on it.
The local newspaper here wants the Navy to be more transparent and announce to the people like us under the planned flight path when the flights will take place so we can ready ourselves for them hence the petition.Take the brace position etc I guess they mean.
The major part of my job above was actually to run a regional airline out of Bristol airport and I remember meeting Brian Trubshaw ( who we had as a consultant) in a pub near the airport. Brian was the Concorde test pilot who years before did all the proving flights. Over several pints he told me that BAC decided early on to be up front and honest about their test programme and inform the general public when it was flying and on what route. As a result the Filton switchboard was always jammed by calls from Welsh farmers claiming the deaths of thousands of shocked chickens, cows injured by jumping fences after the sudden noise and ladies who had dropped valuable antique plates they were cleaning when Concorde went over.
To combat this BAC started to lie about when they were going to do it and sure enough minutes after the flight had supposedly flown over, the switchboard would light up with calls claiming compensation.
Italian Navy I did warn you.