Thursday, August 02, 2007

helicopter, policeman's helmet, no photocopier

For the sake of an accurate description, I have just weighed my new helicopter. It weighs 10 grams or 1/4 oz. The fuselage is made of expanded polystyrene, the rotors and tail propeller of plastic. It is powered by a tiny motor beneath the rotors, which gets its power from an external battery-powered charger. You plug the charger into the helicopter via a lead. You operate the helicopter by remote, wireless control from the charger. It requires some skill to fly it (it has to be indoors, unless it is very still outside). But I am getting better at it every day. So far it has proved remarkably robust having hit the ceiling on a number of occasions and plummeted to the ground, when I took my finger off the throttle.

We sit on the terrace outside the Spotted Dog at Speldhurst and feast on haddock and chips. The beer-batter, in which the fish is clothed is light, crisp and transparent. It deserves and gets a couple of pints of Larkins bitter, brewed at Chiddingstone, down the road, to accompany it. I've been going to this pub for 40 years or more. It was famous for its views over the weald. Then a malign neighbour who owned the field beneath the terrace, planted trees which soon obscured the view. Now a gap has been made in the trees, and the view is partially restored. Under the wall beside the terrace, policeman's helmet or Indian balsam, is flourishing. It grows profusely in these parts, especially on river banks. We watch the bees popping in and out of the purple flowers, in forward, and out backwards.

I read this morning in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria how, when at school, he copied out the sonnets of William Bowles in order to share his enthusiasm for them with his friends. "As my school finances did not permit me to purchase copies," he writes, "I made, within less than a year and half, more than 40 transcriptions, as the best present I could offer to those, who had in any way won my regard." I thought to myself: No telephone, no typewriter, no word-processor, no computer, no photocopier! I love Coleridge all the more for this.

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