When I was a kid I sometimes used to lie on the grass in our back garden looking up at the sky, picking out objects and finding faces in the clouds as they moved in slow motion far above me.
Often among the hazy wisps and cotton wool constellations there white lines drawn by distant jets that shimmered in the summer sun. I’d lie there and watch them as they cut through the clouds, disappearing and reappearing, traveling at speeds that seemed only a little faster than those I could achieve on my bike.
As the jets flew into the distance, melting into the summer blue sky, I’d give them a little wave, the kind you might give a small child looking back at you from the rear seat of a car as it drives away.
My Dad was often working in the garden, tending his beloved flower beds or doing something similarly green-fingered. From time to time I remember asking him where a plane was going. His answer was always the same and often given without so much as an upward glance. “France.” He’d say. And with the kind of trust only children posses I’d simply lie there and wonder what it must be like to go to France, or indeed anywhere, in the kind of plane that threads an evaporating trail across the sky.
Of course they weren’t all flying to France; it was simply my Dad’s answer to most of our childhood geographical questions. We’d be at Southend beach in Essex, and he would point toward Kent just across the mouth of the River Thames saying, “Look, you can see France.” But that was… [Click here to continue reading this article at ‘Meanwhile’]