Amazingly enough, this heat wave is responsible for us as a family putting on pounds when one would naturally think that in this hot weather and the amount of sweating one does you would lose weight. However, I think our temporary weight gain is due to the extraordinary number of pig roasts we have been invited to. It seems when you have a couple of really hot sunny days, people think, “Aha, let’s have a pig roast,” so, as a family we have been very well entertained, none more so than Friday evening.
My wife had an invitation for us all to go along and see the RAF’s Flying Falcons. A reputation of cutting edge brilliance, so off we all went in a very exhilarated mood to witness these dare devils for ourselves and they didn’t disappoint. From a 10,000ft speck in the sky my wife started jumping around saying “I think I can see even smaller specks from that one speck,” We all followed her gaze up into the heavens. The parachutists had jumped from their aircraft and were now in freefall, then as if by some mysterious quirk of magic all the chutes seemed to open more or less together along with coloured smoke trails from canisters which looked to be attached to their ankles. They descended into view. The colours in the canisters were red, white and blue and they looked truly magnificent and you couldn’t help feeling patriotic and very proud as they touched down on the green grass in front of us. They hit the ground with the ease like us mortals getting out of our family cars. We were all immersed in their professionalism for a few seconds as the parachutists looked at each other with smiles and congratulations in their faces to one another. On taking the salute, we marched on promptly to the roast pig area which had seemed to be cooked with the same type of professionalism as we had just seen tumbling from the sky. As we stood there mingling having a casual summer drink, accompanied with an exceptionally nice piece of pork between two lumps of bread you couldn’t help but notice a rather good looking fellow, a James Bond type appearance, 6ft two inches tall, and didn’t appear to have an ounce of fat on him anywhere. We caught each other’s eye and were soon in deep conversation. Within a very short time you knew you were talking to someone who was exceptionally talented. He was telling us how he was one of the main parachute testers for the RAF. He explained how all parachutes and all military hardware went out to tender to at least three manufacturers and to be tested and put through their paces to see which product was good enough for the use in Her Majesty’s armed forces. He travelled the world to test different climates, air pressure and various tolerances. In total he has made to date 3,000 jumps. As he spoke his tales were mesmerising and which made it even more inspiring was his absolute dedication and modesty and the matter of fact way in which he described his month on month adventures, because adventures were what they were. What made this conversation more remarkable was the pride in the way he spoke. It was very contagious as he went on to tell us about the part of his job that interested me and caught my imagination more than anything else he had said. We re-charged our glasses as he told us more about this particular part of his work that he found highly satisfying. Dropping dogs to SAS forces deep behind enemy lines. “Reason being?” I probed.
“Sniffer dogs are vital, especially in some bomb booby trap scenarios.” Of course, it was strikingly obvious once he had pointed it out.
“From what height do you drop with them?” I asked.
“Thirty three thousand feet” was his reply and his face was stony still. I was speaking to an ultimate professional as he explained how they cradled the dogs up and had them on oxygen half an hour before the drop along with himself. I then went on to tell him about our own military exercise, ‘Operation Mozart’s Magic Flute.’ To my astonishment he was as equally enthralled with my tale as I was with his. He agreed with the total seclusion and the attempt by us and a couple of people, Mr and Mrs Cooper (whose invalidity car arrived this afternoon and they are not best pleased with it, but that’s another story), who knew about the sett to keep it off grid for as long as it is humanly possible. And then he asked “What was the contingency plan?”
“What do you mean contingency plan?”
“The contingency plan to fall back on if and when the badger cull snipers arrive. In other words, how are you going to get them out?” The truth was I didn’t know. We mused over my predicament. “How would Special Forces do it?” I asked.
“Chopper, what height are the trees?” he asked, I said he would be able to clear them all at 50 meters. “How many head?”
“About eight,” I replied. He then gave me a phone number, well three phone numbers to be exact, and then with his smart phone he asked for a map grid reference and I pinpointed the sett. He locked this onto his phone and then said “While all this badger cull nonsense is about be in constant awareness mode, practise kitting them out and caging them up, that’s how we will get them out.”
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” We toasted each other and as we shook hands we both muttered “He who dares wins.”
A mature Beech tree can grow to a height of 40 meters