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~ Copyright © Chris J Berry 2007 ~
http://www.chrisjberry.co.uk

High Flyer
Father's flying history had suddenly come to light during my boarding school years. On one particular term, due to illness, I missed the coach departure; Father offering to run me down when I was fit enough. The vague hope in me then, was that I might convince everyone my illness was going to be a long one. However, my enthusiastic efforts to demonstrate my symptoms failed to convince our Doctor who subsequently signed me off, declaring I would be fit to travel the following week. In the week leading up to my departure, no amount of prayer, uttered by me, seemed to affect any changes to the plan. On the fateful day, I watched in a fit of depression as my case was loaded into our dilapidated car's boot, and realised then the time to say my tearful goodbyes had arrived.
plane
As I climbed in, I contemplated a last ditch hope that our old car would throw a tantrum, forcing Dad to return home and afford me a stay of execution. Fate, it seemed, was intent on adhering to the plan; our old banger performing perfectly, threatening no hint of the regular failings characteristic of its past.
plane
During the journey down, my despair intensified. Sporadic, light-hearted comments offered by Dad landed on my deaf ears; I was inconsolable. We were about half-way into the trip, when he produced a large thick brown envelope asking me to take out its contents. Pre-occupied, I vacantly opened it, and shook the content out onto my lap. I gazed down at a wad of pictures, displaying Dad posed in the cockpit of a Tiger Moth 11 against a back-drop of mosaic pastureland below. I stared at them; the thought of boarding school appealing to me now, possessing something I could boast about to the other children. Dad could see he had achieved his objective in swaying me away from the thought of returning to school, but asked me to say nothing about his flying activities to Mum. At the time I was too young to understand the true gravity of his request, and conceded innocently to his wish.
Over lunch, in a road-side cafe, he became engrossed in his story, finally selecting two pictures for me to display on my dormitory locker. The transformation the event brought about in me was noticeable. Not from the possibilities of becoming a future pilot, but more from the prospects of expounding to my contemporaries; my father was an aviator. As the school years passed, his flying activities were eventually revealed to Mother, developing into a confrontation that nearly fragmented our family way of life for ever. Mother was incensed by his deceitfulness, but more so by the way it had encouraged mine. Time however, is a great healer, and after many heated discussions a compromise was reached, with mum conceding to the reasoning behind his revelation. But on reflection, she never had anything to worry about, as over the years I was to develop an intense dread of flying.
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