Overhead, quite low, an aircraft flew. I did not see it (I was driving) but in that moment I was back in the 1940s. ‘It’s one of ours, my grandma said.’ She would have been right had she really been with me today. German bombers throbbed and pulsed. This aircraft had a steady roar, unwavering and rich. And yes, it was an aircraft from that era, a Dakota, flying over us as part of a ceremony in which the local RAF station received the freedom of our town. I was able to catch a glimpse of it as it circled above us.
But, this is strange: it was a comforting sound. It would have been so, 70 years ago. I am reading the diary of someone who fought in that war, from before the beginning, until he was involved in sorting out all the problems which the so-welcome peace brought with it. What that aircraft represented could surely not be the subject of nostalgia.
But it was. The old pubs in my town used to have old black and white pictures of aircrews from the local wartime RAF stations posted on their walls. They came here to relax. I haven’t checked recently. But they came here to enjoy a few pints of mild and bitter.
And as their successors marched proudly to the music of the RAF band, through our high street today, they would have recognised many of its sights, its buildings, the town hall, the half-timbered houses.
And they would see, on the meadow below the parish church tower, another generation, of youngsters, in whites, getting ready, on the immaculate cricket square, preparing for a match, their families in light, summer colourful clothes, preparing to watch the game. In the sun.