Almost three months gone and no post…holy blogosphere Batman! But seriously, that is a long time between drinks. Rest assured that the silence on the blogging front wasn’t for a lack of material, but rather it was a lack of machinery that left me stranded in the blogging wilderness. After seven years my much-loved laptop is finally on its last legs. Until my last encounter with it I wasn’t actually aware that you could get the blue-screen-of-death so many times in a row. After the fourth blue-out I began to engage in that futile talk one feels they need to have with an uncooperative computer “Come on laptop, you’re overheated and so am I…either you start up, or blow up, which do you prefer?” While it didn’t blow up, it is now resting in a state of retirement.
Anyway, back to the business of blogging. Much has happened in the world of Lizzie. Some of the escapades, trails & tribulations of the past twelve weeks were enjoyable and others weren’t so much – some may end up as posts, while others are unlikely to become posting material. However this post is one that I’ve been thinking about for a couple of weeks and it would be remiss of me to let the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain to go by without commenting on it.
Seventy years ago the Blitz was raining down on London while the Battle of Britain was being waged in the clear late summer skies over the city and south-east of England. I was twelve during the 55th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and I developed an all-consuming interest in it. This interest had been sparked by the movie (starring Laurence Olivier amongst others in a stellar cast). When my Form Two teacher, Mr Sullivan, asked the class to do a project on something that interested them I chose the Battle of Britain. Other girls chose to do their projects on horses and pro surfers – it was another moment in my school life that marked me out as a bit of a total nerd. Not that I cared, everything about this battle fascinated me: the planes, the pilots and the personalities of those involved.
Like many a spectator of history who finds themselves separated from the events that intrigue them by the passage of time, I’ve often wondered what this moment was like for those Londoners who witnessed it. This is especially true for me now as I have begun to consider London a home of sorts. With all that was at stake, when those Londoners watched the dog fights raging above the familiar landmarks, could they distinguish between the men and the machines? Between the pilots of flesh & blood who flew, and the machines of metal and armour that were flown? Hmmm, I think such a distinction might be a luxury of us spectators of history, who posses the ability of hindsight. What I do know for certain was that amongst those Londoners was my Nana. Too young to enlist, she joined the WAAF the following year. As a spectator of history, this is as tangibly close as I will get to the actual event.
Over the August Bank Holiday weekend I caught the second half of the Battle of Britain movie on TV. It was a moment of serendipity, as it was quite possibly the first time that I had seen it in almost ten years. Watching it through adult eyes brought home just how young some of the pilots were who were flying those planes. As a twelve-year-old, a 22-year-old pilot sounded well, rather, old. Now, as a 20 something who is on the greater side of 30, a 22-year-old pilot sounds exactly like what it was – young.
A similar moment of reflection had occurred earlier that day when I visited the Yorkshire village of Aldborough. Ostensibly I had visited this village as it was built on the site of a Roman town and it had some Roman remains (which I did see while I was there). However, amongst the park benches and maypole on the village green I came across the following plaque:
So, here is a moment to reflect on the men and women who had given their lives during this conflict, the preceding world war and all other wars that have followed. To die young in these circumstances is to die too soon. Further, to die in the act of saving the lives of others exemplifies a selflessness that demonstrates the better side of our humanity and is something that is worth remembrance and reflection.