I'm happy as I can be, sitting in room 319, the Warwick Hilton, with the lovely Lin, typing away via broadband (Fifteen Pounds/24 hours @ $2.19/Pound Sterling = 2.28 cents/minute for internet access.... used or not!) and waiting for whatever develops when the 74 Squadron (Fighter), RAF, Association has its meeting. I was so eager, I came more than a day early. Call it light reconnaissance. Still, I'm sort of spinning because, Sunday, we were in Hawaii at 82 degrees F. Monday through Wednesday I was trying to get my patients squared away.... it was 79 degrees in Santa Ana, and then yesterday, after setting TIVO to record the UCLA games vs the Arizona schools, we board a Boeing 777 at LAX and, with tail winds, and a ground speed at one time of 700 !!! really, nine hourse and 33 minutes later we're at Heathrow. Now at 37,000 feet the outside temperature is listed as -67 degrees F. On the ground, it's 50, and the weather forecast is not correct. It is not raining.... not yet. We flew Business Class, American Airlines, so we're well fed, we've stretched out, I've heard Dvorak's New World Symphony conducted by Raphael Kubelick and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, at least 4 times! Better each time. They didn't offer Folk Music or Bagpipes, but I could have had Japanese popular music. Lots of wine in business class. I'm chugging along through "A Tiger's Tale," for the second time, showing Lin the hot parts, the little bits of color that humanize the heroes, the girlfriends, Jessica, Billie, the cinema cashier, the sailor's wife, the WAAF who set up a house of ill repute at the air base, got caught and shipped off to a more distant base with her "team" and found even better opportunities.... and still they fought a war and shot down Germans, and got shot down.... and, heck, John Freeborn is 89 years old. When am I going to get to meet him if I don't go now,.
Now! We've all heard of "The Few." I'm going to be having dinner with the fighter pilot who had the most hours of combat time in the Battle of Britain. I've read his biography. I've read a hundred biographies of World War II pilots. I've even flown in a Spitfire, and now I'm going to meet a man who did what I could only dream about, and is generous enough to be willing to share some of the same stories he shared with others, hundreds of times. So, I'm excited, but heck, he's 89, so don't get my hopes up so high.
I'm an associate of the Squadron Association. Well, I can retaliate. I can make them all honorary nephrologists, and teach 'em how to do urinalyses. Probably, no takers. Well, they can do it under fire, like when the patients are backed up and double booked and I'm looking for red cell casts under the microscope and the armour-plated windscreen is fogged over..... whoops, those metaphors are getting all mixed up.
We were picked up by Rob (limousine service) and driven the ~70 miles to Warwick in an E class Mercedes 2.2 L turbodiesel, discussing Bush's failings, the National Health Service, and watching the miles go by. The Hilton, here, is a bit shabby, but a fine buffet dinner was included in a too high price, but heck... 74 Squadron...reporting. Warwick is near Stratford. We came up the M40. Surrounded by the natives and the locals. One server's accent was so thick, I wanted to ask him to please repeat what he had said in "American." Jolly, nice people, even when I made 4 trips down to the reception for converters, hair dryers, change, return the trolley, etc.
And now it's BBC and ITV. 22:40 GMT and 14:40 PST. I'm in Warwick living a fantasy. Lin is sleeping.