Delightful chat with my mother, Pat, this morning, on the occasion of her 87th birthday. She recalled Herman Goering’s attempt to kill her, when she was sitting in a park south of London, wearing uniform and close by to an anti-aircraft battery. In the distance, three planes could be seen from as far as 20 miles away as they sped north – directly towards her. She reflected on how wonderful the RAF were, only to have them machine-gun her. Luckily for her – and me – they missed.
Shortly afterwards, despite my still suffering from bronchitis, Elaine and I headed south to see a friend, Jane Davenport, who pre-dates even Elaine, and to take a look at a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking, where Jane volunteers.
Extraordinary to see one of Leonardo’s sketchbooks – and some of the working demonstrated the dazzling range of the man’s imagination, from diving helmets and machine guns (he’d have been interested to take a look inside those Luftwaffe aircraft) to self-propelling cars and parachutes. Across the road, as we went to collect the car, there was a Pegasus, or similar, carved from a single oak tree, which extended the afternoon’s winged theme. Then home to Jane’s for a leisurely series of coffees and teas in the sun, with hazelnuts cannoning down on the roof of the nearby summerhouse. One of the Leonardo aphorisms in the museum had reflected on how sometimes when you’re buried in work, it helps to put a little distance between you and it. And it works.