This post is a little rambling, it kinda reflects how I feel today, but I hope worth it. Christmas this year was about spending time with my family, and I have a wonderful, supportive family. I’m doing something about living 4800 miles away.
Arrived at Heathrow on Christmas Eve. SeaTac was busy, the plane packed and after traveling in business class over the last month it was a big hello with reality to sit in the cheap seats. I know I sound like a spoilt brat, but I missed the bigger seats and almost passable food that comes with sitting up front. I can feel the sympathy out there, thank you all.
The flight came in over Scotland, Ayr to be precise, the skies were clear and the ground white with snow. From the window we could see across the Firth of Clyde, towards Greenock and Dunoon. Pick out Millport and the smudge of grey that’s Glasgow in the distance. A lot of family holidays were spent with my grandparents in that part of the world.
As we flew South to London the snow never stopped. The entire country was covered.
Christmas eve was a quiet evening spent at my brothers. My niece was in fine form and the dog did what most animals seem to do, sit with dad.
Obviously there is a lot of emotion around Christmas this year in my family. On the 25th we went out for dinner to a local hotel. Dad, my brother’s family and myself. The drive through Guildford on Christmas Day felt like being in one of those disaster movies where everyone has disappeared. The streets were snow covered and all but deserted.
The food was good and while the hotel served us with its usually mildly amusing incompetence, it was a good way to spend the afternoon. And best of all, no one had to do the washing up. The wine flowed my niece was full of life and the stories changing from deep and meaningful, to funny and entertaining.
It’s wonderful to just sit and listen to dad when he’s telling stories of Scotland, books that are important to him, us as kids and his time with my niece.
Granddad was the same; when the mood struck him, he would sit there and just tell stories of growing up in Canada, his family, driving a tractor at 12 and so on.
The comparisons don’t end there. Like dad, granddad was typically rather stoic, but at some point it all changed and granddad wanted the narrative of his life shared. We sat one evening for hours; he talked about me about growing up in Canada, signing up with his brother James to come to England in 1939, watching La Habs play at the forum and so much more.
30ish years ago dad gave me a Neville Shute book to read, “Trustee in the Tool Room”. It’s set in the 50’s among the boffins at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough; a place I’d start my career in aero 35 years after the book was first published. This year I got another Shute book, as an author he’s probably best known for “On the Beach”, a great book and wonderful movie. Dad knows he is a meaningful author to me, thanks for such a thoughtful present.
I’m not going to say that reading that original Shute book led to my career in aero, there are many other things that have caused this wonderful, entertaining journey through the world of aero and engineering. It’s certainly been a something I’ve thought about now and again.