Sunday, 27 June 2010

On bits from the road in Britain

On mistaking a candidate for the British general election
As I have mentioned before, my trip to Britain occurred during a general election. While I follow British news, I knew I didn't know all the nuances of British politics. I therefore opted to simply observe and deduce what was going on. In fairly short order, I figured out that Labour wasn't very popular in the countryside and what the colours of the various parties were (Tories, blue, Labour, red and Liberal-Democrats, an orangey-yellow).

The latter-most factoid lead me to conclude that the individual who's name was on stickers on the backs of a fair number of cars was a popular contender for a relatively large riding in the North of England. However, after two days, I came the realization that my conclusion was wrong given the overly wide dispersal of cars so marked.

For the record, Arnold Clark is in fact the name of a car rental company and not a Lib-Dem politician.

On what it takes to be a certain type of pilot
It is one thing to be a pilot and have the sang-froid to deal with all the stresses of keeping a plane in the air.

It is quite another to fly low,

in a mountainous region,

in bad (cloudy, windy and rainy) weather,

in formation,

in a Hercules Mk. C4!
Yet that is what I saw fly over me in Inveraman (a little to the North of Loch Lomond)! Unfortunately, I could only catch one of the two in this picture! The term "big cojones" springs to mind. Also, "smart like tractor" as in "Strong like ox, smart like tractor."

On my knowledge of Scottish songs
At times, I like to sing while I am biking. Furthermore, it pleases me to sing songs that somehow relate to the area I am cycling. I was singing Viva la Quince Brigada in Spain, Got to get me moose, B'ye on the way to Newfoundland and Northwest Passage from Victoria to Calgary (yes I was going the wrong way, but then it includes the line "to find there but the road back home again!") along with other songs.

In the Lake District, I was singing Archie Fisher's Witch of the Westmoreland and was even tempted to go via the Kirkstone Pass because of it. Unfortunately, when I got to Scotland, I could remember the lyrics to any Scottish songs that weren't laments or one description or another. Think about it, Loch Lomond, The Skye Boat Song, Flower of Scotland and Will ye no come back again, all evoke past defeats rather than victories. Shades worse than a Frenchman of my Father's acquaintance who was "surprised" at how the British built monuments to defeats such as Trafalgar and Waterloo. A Scottish Soldier is a nice tune, but rather mawkish. (Interestingly enough, I found out during my trip that Andy Stewart had used the tune of The green hills of Tyrol, a bagpipe tune adapted in turn from an alpine folk tune used in Verdi's William Tell during the Crimean War.) Campbeltown Loch I do know, but it lacks the je ne sais quoi to keep you going over hill and dale. Or should I say, "ben and glen".

I had a notion that A hundred pipers and Johnnie Cope referred to victories, but I could not remember the words well enough. In the end, I had to settle for mumbling Kornog's version of the chorus of Robbie Burns Sherriffmuir which goes along the lines of "Hey dum dirrum, hey dum, dan/Hey dum dirrum, dey dan'", and thus lacks enough drive.

If I am to return to Scotland by bike, I must first find a suitable "biking song".


Margo and Chris said...

Military Airplanes in England

You were in a part of England where it used to be that the NATO forces in Germany played a game with the UK based forces, namely: Fly from Germany to the UK and see if you could fly under the radar so the early warning guys first saw you visually. I have seen a military jet flying so low in Northumberland that I was looking down at it! My guess these two Hercules C4's were playing a similar game.


Bikemoose said...

I generally agree with your view of the situation, though FYI I was in Scotland at the time! (I have altered the entry to give location.) My point was though that to fly low in mountains in bad weather, in formation in something as clumsy as a lumbering transport plane is much more demanding than doing it in a jet fighter. I had already had a fighter-bomber buzz me near Grasmere. Had I been up on Helvellyn, it would have been below me.