In a relatively short space of time, an awful lot of flying things happened in the years separating the Wright Brothers from Yuri Gagarin. Exactly 112 years ago, on December 17th 1903, Orville and then Wilbur took to the air each making two controlled, powered flights in a machine constructed of spruce timber, muslin and string. The first flight by Orville covered 120 feet and the fourth flight by Wilbur went for 852 feet. The average altitude was 10 feet and the average airspeed was 6.8 miles per hour. (more…)
December 17, 2015
November 7, 2015
As David Cameron repeatedly reminds us, the first duty of a British Prime Minister is to protect the safety and security of British citizens at home and abroad. However, his courageous decision to ground all flights to and from a holiday resort on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula is not the tactical triumph of TE Lawrence taking Aqaba from the desert hinterland.
Obviously a lot has changed in 102 years and Lawrence was considered insane to cross the Jordanian Nefud desert allied to the Arab Revolt in order to oust the Ottoman Empire defenders from the strategically significant port. Quite why Cameron wanted to shut down Sharm el-Sheikh airport is anyone`s guess. (more…)
June 27, 2015
The entire point of being a token Northerner in a metro centric privileged government is that any hope of a long career is shrouded by inevitable redundancy.
Eric Pickles brought very little to the cabinet table apart from a regional accent and a huge tray of free biscuits and after the election was unceremoniously told to go away and settle for a knighthood. (more…)
June 15, 2015
Driving a motor vehicle a long distance between two different centres of population along a busy trunk road or motorway is not that difficult. There are, however, choices to consider and a myriad of decisions to be made on every mile of the journey. Obviously the main consideration is to arrive safely but this tends to be overshadowed by the desire to arrive safely in the shortest possible time regardless of the possibility of being burnt to death in a charred heap of crumpled metal.
So, on a long drive back from the coast after a rather splendid weekend away, uppermost in my mind was the speed at which I should approach some unforeseen bottleneck in the accompanying traffic. The trunk road in question is mostly dual carriageway but occasionally narrows to a single lane for a mile or two which will, no doubt, be improved once the Highways Agency secure the time, money and planning permission to make our journeys faster. (more…)
November 14, 2014
There is a lot of fun to be had when filling in the equal opportunities monitoring section of an application form or a questionnaire. Unless required for the official census, details of age, gender and ethnicity are completely irrelevant and a little intrusive. Rather than ensuring diversity in any survey or in recruitment, the pigeon-hole questions are more of a marketing tool to identify a particular demographic.
Being a white, middle-aged English man who is a bit dim, a true and accurate description of my social status might lump me in with the sub-group that displays a disturbing obsession with the Farage creature and the Daily Mail. It is tempting, therefore, to complete this bit of the form erroneously just for a laugh. Pretending to be female wouldn`t really work but the ethnicity tick boxes provide endless equal opportunities for mischief. Ticking “other” and then adding Inuit or Amazonian Yawanawa or Ubangian Baka might just cheer up the poor soul tasked with doing the analysis. These days, however, in an atmosphere of toxic nationalism, I tend to tick “other” and then describe my ethnicity as either “Celtic” or, more often, as “European”. There`s more japes to be had in tick boxes regarding faith. (more…)