Forever associated with the RAF's victory in the Battle of Britain 70 years ago, the Supermarine Spitfire has secured an enduring nostalgic place in British aviation history.
For BBC Radio 4's Today programme, presenter Evan Davis was shown around a workshop at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, where rusty remnants of the fighter aircraft are used to help restore old Spitfires to their former glory.
Really? That’s the sort of thing that would have made me want to convert to being French. But I never went to a public school, who knows how that could upend your priorities.
The moment is given a little more context later in the article
“In my teens I was sent off by my parents to a cottage in Corsica on an exchange with a very vigorous French Jewish family with four daughters,” Winter recalls. “They turned out to be enthusiastic nudists.
“I remember being on the beach and seeing conjured up before my adolescent eyes every 15-year-old boy’s most fervent fantasy. There was a moment when I saw peach juice running off the chin of one of these bathing beauties and I had a moment of realisation: the world is not just the consequence of material forces. Beauty is not something that can be explained away just as an aspect of brain function.”
It had quite an effect on him: “That was the first time I became remotely interested in anything beyond the material world. It was an unpromising beginning, you might say.
“In a Christian context, sexuality is traditionally seen as a consequence of the Fall, but for Muslims, it is an anticipation of paradise. So I can say, I think, that I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist.”
Nope. I’d still rather be French than religious. (And that’s not being snide. I’m fond of our Gallic neighbours. If I ever manage to finish a comic project it will be more suited to the French than US market. They make some very good films. Their pop music is awful, but their hip-hop is quite interesting. They also do interesting tax breaks for artists. Admittedly the Belgians make better beer, but nowhere’s perfect.)
The vans took longer than expected to give up any secrets. After another couple of minutes waiting for the call back about the number plates Irwin walked over o the main counter of the kitchen and studied the chrome and black coffee maker which at on it. “Are you done with dusting?” he asked Gloria.
“Who else wants a coffee?”
Kay wanted to glare at him, but she had to admit that, now there was nothing to do, she really could do with a drink. She nodded assent just after Gloria. Irwin set about deducing how the machine worked and tracking down coffee. He tapped the previous load into the pedal bin and opened the fridge. There was a jar of coffee beans in one of the door shelves. This cued more searching as he looked for a grinder. He was very noisily reducing beans to powder and flakes when Kay’s phone rang.
She cradled the phone on her shoulder and pulled the netbook to her. Opening a text window she began tapping notes as she listened and nodded. “Okay, we’ll be on our way.” she finally said before hanging up. “Okay,” she announced, “we may well have a result. One of those vans has the registration number of a completely different vehicle. Better still, it was just spotted heading into Salford. The other has just been spotted in Ancoats heading back into town. They’re going to keep tabs on it just in case.”
“Can we get to Salford?”
“Not quickly. My car’s back at the station.”
“Take my scooter.” offered Gloria, “It’s just outside.”
“I can’t ride a scooter.” Kay shrugged.
“But I can.” said Irwin, “If that’s okay.”
Gloria considered this for a moment. “Okay, but you’re paying for any damages.” She picked up her helmet and gave it to Gloria. “This will Bluetooth sync with your phone so you can talk hands free as you ride. There’s a spare in the luggage box.” She gave Irwin her keys. “Go and catch some bad guys. I’ll secure the scene and then walk back.”