‘Helping in the allotment’ OR ‘Reasons not to get a doggo’

January 1, 2018 § 6 Comments

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According to eldest daughter…

  1. Mud splattered everywhere – even on bedroom ceiling
  2. Barking. Anytime – especially at night when wants to play
  3. No room for humans on sofas anymore
  4. Chronic feeling of guilt when goes out without doggo
  5. Doggo likes burping in face when feeling full and cheerful
  6. Stinky ass farts (not my words, mind), when particularly full and even more cheerful
  7. Paw marks on bed sheets. Bits and bobs under duvet that couldn’t have got there by themselves, like interesting twigs, pre historic sparrow corpse, rotting tennis ball
  8. Recurrent teenage behaviour, eg. not listening, falling in river, getting stuck down rabbit holes. Has to be rescued so can do it again
  9. No Christmas decorations this year. Mysteriously all chewed up

~

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first solo

September 10, 2017 § 5 Comments

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A revised version of a piece published in a national flying magazine in 1992

The thesis was finished and handed in, and I had nothing to do. ‘So what’s it like then?’ I said, kicking a pebble into the long grass.

‘Brilliant,’ he replied. ‘But this bit’s making me want to throw up.’

‘How come?’

‘You pull the stick back until the whole thing rattles like an old tin can.’

‘Then what?’

‘A wing drops and you fall out of the sky.’

‘Christ. So why aren’t you dead?’

‘There’s a trick,’ he grinned. ‘Stick forward, full power. Pull back at seventy knots. Easy.’

‘Cool,’ I said. I was impressed.

He handed me a card with a photo of a plane on the front. ‘For you,’ he said. ‘A reward for getting the dissertation done.’ It was a trial flying lesson.

I loved aeroplanes. I was the person who rushed outside to see what was making that interesting roar as it flew over the farm. I was the anorak who apologised to lampposts as I watched the Pitts Special practice barrel rolls over the long straight road leading out of town. But flying them? In those days, it was men who did that.

My instructor, who had a comb over put a hand on my shoulder. ‘Women,’ he confided, ‘make better pilots than men.’

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Because they listen, and don’t show off.’

He let me hold the stick while he took off, and showed me how to fiddle with the controls as we flew towards my house. I waved at husband and offspring as we circled the farm, and he talked me through a hands – on landing. I didn’t feel sick either.

My husband’s generosity had seriously backfired. Flying lessons were expensive. Particularly when both of us were doing it. Surely one trial lesson would be enough, wouldn’t it? Soon after the event, I was to be found locked in the loo drooling over a book full of wonderful creatures called Stearmans and Mooneys. Within the month, my family had chronic indigestion as I threw yet another supermarket pizza in the oven when I got back late from flying school. I was hooked.

It’s a prerequisite for anyone learning to fly to become a total bore – so that is what I did. Pretty soon my husband’s answers to my incessant questions became monosyllabic, and his face took on a glazed expression every time I uttered an innocent remark about flying. It made not one jot of difference to me: passion was passion.

I started noticing this thing called weather – funny I’d never noticed it before – and each morning I would gaze heavenwards to assess the possibility of increasing my (okay, our) overdraft. ‘Do you think the cloud base is above circuit height?’ I’d mutter. ‘Look. See that little hole in the clouds. Do you think I could slip through and do some stalling practice?’ If the weather was good, I was on the phone booking a flying slot; if it wasn’t, I’d mooch around all day wishing I lived in the south of France or Florida. It was rather like being in love.

I have a friend who went solo after nine hours – and I hate him. The question was always the same: ‘Have you gone solo yet?’ And so was my answer. But I was having a great time doing orbits in the circuit (where had the runway gone?), and bouncing like an inebriated kangaroo along the runway. But best of all was watching my instructor’s face as I nearly landed on the nose wheel – again. Did training aircraft have special twit proof suspension, I wondered.

Life continued, as did the overdraft – and then I got suspicious. Why did my instructor not instruct all the time? Why did he always have the Daily Mail tucked under his arm? I decided he just didn’t like me. The silences grew, and I uncharacteristically ran out of things to say. As my hours slipped away onto page three of my logbook (the shame of it), I finally twigged that either my first solo was imminent (unlikely), or the flying school was mustering the courage to tell me there was no hope.

I decided to stop thinking about being let loose by myself – so I dreamt about it instead. I was on short finals that night when two small children materialised in the cockpit. I think they belonged to me. One threatened an accident if I didn’t produce a potty NOW, the other was contemplating when she would be in need of one of those brown paper bags they give you on airliners. I woke up. I don’t think I landed, so I suppose I must still be up there somewhere…

It was a soggy November morning, three days after I’d disgraced myself doing some wriggly yet interesting crosswind landings. I sloped off to the airport, only to find my instructor hadn’t arrived. Was this it? Had I finally broken his spirit? I pootled off to do my pre flight checks. He finally turned up but the little plane refused to start. This was surely a sign I should go home. But he, ever valiant and resourceful, toyed with the idea of having bits of himself amputated by hand swinging the prop. We were off.

‘No comment,’ said he, as I landed and bounced inelegantly towards the grass verge. Such is life. He got out his Daily Mail and pretended to ignore me. After three landings, he began breathing heavily. Then he spoke. ‘I have control,’ he said, pressing the radio button. ‘ Air Traffic Control. Permission request for first solo.’

‘Who, me?’ I croaked. ‘I can’t do that.’

He smiled and tucked the newspaper under his arm. My heart started behaving oddly: I could hear it. A period of prevarication followed, and while I privately dithered, he taxied us to the apron and got out. ‘Good luck,’ was all he said. He didn’t even say goodbye. I didn’t move. I wanted a fag. Then I remembered I’d stopped breathing. I was all by myself and it was exactly one o’clock. I shook myself and did my internal checks. Twice. Mustn’t forget to put the fuel pump on. What was the Emergency Landing After Take Off procedure? Should I say a prayer or something?

My mind went blank after that, and, as if by magic, I found myself on the end of the tarmac runway. Pre take off checks done. Deep breath. Full throttle, and the rattly old plane skipped into the air. I waved at the control tower. They waved back. I climbed to a thousand feet. Flew over the houses outside the perimeter fence. Turning onto the crosswind leg, I looked for other traffic. Then  I giggled. I turned downwind and giggled some more. I’d always wanted to waggle my wings, so I did. Pre landing checks done. Where was that block of flats I had to turn base on?

I turned onto base leg and began my descent. Five hundred feet – time to turn finals. The wind was good – ten knots straight off the runway. Perfect. Or was it? I was too low – a little throttle. I was losing speed – lower the nose. I reported finals. At two hundred feet I skimmed the fence and whizzed past the plane geeks with binoculars stuck to their faces. Fifty feet. Cut the power. Flare. I plopped delicately onto the tarmac, and remembered I’d stopped breathing again. I taxied off and flicked a few switches. I tried hard to wipe the grin off my face. I couldn’t.

I don’t remember anything after that until I got home. My husband’s remarks were brief and monosyllabic. ‘Oh,’ was all he could manage. I suppose he was thinking about the letter we’d had from the bank that morning…

~

yikes

March 30, 2015 § 10 Comments

l-Brace-Yourselves-A-Strong-Wind-is-Coming

violent spring wind

lifting tiles on my neighbour’s roof –

g

   l

      i

         s

            s

               a

                  n

                      d

                            o

 

 

Image courtesy cutestpaw.com

priorities

February 27, 2015 § 6 Comments

raindrop

 

 

s

o

u

n

d

 

o

f

 

r

a

i

n

 

on the old tin roof –

 

hedgehog

                still

                      snoring…

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy the sietchorg.

cold feet

February 17, 2015 § 10 Comments

lauren-2

barefoot in the snow

ouch –

i am alive!

~

Written after Issa…

Issa (1762-1826) is one of the most well known haiku poets. He was a Buddhist priest, and spent many years simply wandering about Japan. I enjoy his work as he clearly loved to play with words and to make fun of both himself and the human condition. Although he used traditional images like cherry blossom and so on, his sense of humour and wonderfully eccentric imagination led to some great haiku: “here comes a bush warbler!/ wiping his dirty feet/ on the plum blossom”. His work can be both coarse or rough, yet exquisite at the same time. An inspiring and timeless poet.

Bottle

May 15, 2014 § 29 Comments

This story has been removed from the blog as it has been published by the journal ‘Ariadne’s Thread.’

10th. Feb 2015

 

 

w-corfe-witch_bottle

 

Photo courtesy Times Online

 

 

 

breathe

May 5, 2014 § 22 Comments

 

Image

trouble with haiku

and that darned 5-7-5 rule –

you run out of syll…

~

Photo courtesy Michael Sheehan

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