Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The day we caught the plane...

The Plane: DeHavilland Vampire

The Dehavilland Museum is just off the M25 and a labour of love for the old men in overalls who keep it going; keep it, like the 60 year old engines that they miraculously bring back to life, ticking over. One of these distinguished diesal-heads is Colin.

Colin had been something of a maverick pilot in his time, once flying low over a lake, opening the door so that he could dip his fingers in the water, and crashing spectacularly in the process. He was also part of the team that installed the Dakota wing in Simon's flat.

Two DeHavilland Vampire wings lay abandoned in one of the fields next to the museum - they would have been rusting were they not made of aluminium. They needed to be moved, a children's play area taking their spot; old making way for new. Whilst they are totally useless for their original purpose, they are far, far too good to be scrapped.

But it seems Simon may know a man who will arrange the transportation: the crane that will lift these 3tonne behomths onto the low-rider that will be escorted by police outriders back to London. It's a 50/50 split: this man will cut his up and turn it into posh, art furniture but Simon's finder's fee will be the other wing, which will also be kept in storage at the wing-furniture factory. As we left we also salvaged, from the museum's skip, a switch (which was useful for the wires protruding from Simon's dash that, when melded together, charged his iPhone) and a big, bright yellow bag that once belonged to the signal corps (and would now be a basket for his two cats).

There are no pictures of the rest of the day, but it was spent drinking tea with Ed on a boat that, were it not for the Tibetan flags and armchairs on deck, would have been more at home in the North Sea, battling through rough waters than on a squatted mooring near Kew Bridge; eating posh sausages on rye bread with mustard in Simon's flat, as the drizzle came down outside and the cats got used to the scent of their new basket; watching Ghost Dance in the dark, upstairs in a high ceilinged Edwardian bedroom at the Really Free School (that was soon to fall back into the hands of the evil Baron von Ritchie), whilst flash bulbs popped outside; being taught how to make an origami crane by Sophie; and sprinting for the night bus, propelled by Red Stripe and adrenalin, with Saul. It was very heaven.

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