Sunday, 20 July 2008


I’ve been watching the progress made in restoring to flight the Avro Vulcan XH558. At times the project came close to failing but with Lottery grant aid, extensive donations plus philanthropic assistance from Sir Jack Hayward the old V bomber finally took to the air again in 2007 and now has its CAA flight approval and public display authority.

East Anglian Troy remembers as a boy watching these loud but graceful machines flying over the Yorkshire coast. At air displays they also stole the show with their impressive displays. Most famously, prior to its retirement two Vulcans took part in the 8,000 mile bombing raid on Port Stanley airfield in the Falklands War – at that time a record distance for a bombing raid. So I was keen for Troy Junior (aged 7) to have a similar experience (to see the Vulcan in flight, not to bomb Stanley).

So armed with advanced tickets, Mrs Troy, Troy Junior and myself headed off to Farnborough Airshow yesterday. From the traffic queues it seems the rest of Britain had the same idea. Having finally got into the show Troy Junior seemed well impressed with the Red Arrows and the fast jets (Typhoon, F-16, F-18) as well as with the pilot who threw the giant Airbus A380 around the sky (memo to self – don’t fly with that pilot on holiday). Just after 3pm the Vulcan XH558 taxied onto the runway. It very quickly got airbourne – they obviously didn’t restore many of its 1,000lb bombs with it – and it was great to see that familiar delta shape in the sky again after all these years. Yet Troy Junior didn’t seem over impressed. The pilot handled it very gently, it did a couple of flypasts then landed again.

My lasting memory of past Vulcan air displays was the fast low level flypast then a near vertical climb at full throttle at the end of the display area – the whole ground would shake, the noise was ear-shattering – you really felt the immense power of the plane. The RAF certainly knew how to burn fuel – a delta shape with a carbon footprint to match.

So in some ways yesterday was an anti-climax. However the “Vulcan To The Sky” people must be applauded for the way they succeeded against the odds in restoring Vulcan XH558 to flight. And a great use of Lottery money in preserving an important part of Britain’s flying heritage (our main nuclear deterrent prior to Polaris).

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


East Anglian Troy is feeling guilty. Could it be that Gordon Brown saw my picture of Southwold (see “Coastal Suffolk” photo on this blog) and thought “we must go there for our Summer Hols”? Perhaps Gordon doesn’t read this blog. I hope that’s the case as I would hate to be the cause that lumbered the good folk of Southwold with our Prime Minister.

Gordon will have the chance to see a beautiful part of our country and the Brown family should have a wonderful, enjoyable holiday. However I’m wondering whether Southwold is a good choice for Gordon to see the state of the country following the 11 years of Labour mismanagement.

I think Gordon should have taken the family for a holiday in Glasgow East. Here is a constituency that has been solidly Labour for many many years. It is in places such as
Glasgow East that the true effects of Labour ideology can be most clearly seen. Here has been lavished loads of public spending, enhanced by the Barnett formula which favours Scotland over the English. Here the life expectancy is lower than in Iraq. Here, 50% of the population is unemployed and have no qualifications. Here the welfare state has removed the incentive to work. Labour has enjoyed a stranglehold in the local politics for many decades and this constituency epitomises how the whole country would look if the UK didn’t have the collective sense to regularly return Conservative administrations to power to undo the chaos and mismanagement of the economy by every Labour Government since the 1940’s. Gordon could proudly tell his children that all the country could have looked like Glasgow East if only Labour could have emulated Mugabe‘s approach to elections and clung onto power since the 1970’s.

Perhaps Gordon is waiting until his children are older to show them the Facts of Labour Life. Hopefully by then, Scotland will be an independent nation and England can be ruled by the party to which it gave the most votes in the last General Election. It is a great disappointment to me that the Conservatives cling to the Union when the people of Scotland and Wales clearly believe in a collective ideology quite alien to conservative England.