Bonjour mes amies.
Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, Kent, on a very cold, extremely windy march day…
“I have a surprise for you Nessie, I have booked a flight for you in a 1942 Spitfire.”
Now even I know WW2 Spitfires have only one cockpit, so unless I shared the same seat with Biggles I had a fighting chance of squirming out of this event.
To offer a unique, once in a lifetime (cos the possibility of death is staring one in the face!) to fly a genuine WW2 combat veteran two-seat Spitfire from the same airfield that Churchill‘s Few fought during the Battle of Britain.
My Father once owned a Tiger Moth aircraft, which he used to have great pleasure in taking us kids up in it from Halfpenny Green or Gaydon airport. Mum refused to ever fly with him, and I can understand why. After a few G&T’s in the pilots mess, up we went, skimming over rooftops, or fields of sheep, frequently missing church steeples and missing the airfield altogether on landing.
“Bugger, miscalculated that one, have to find a telephone box and call your Mother for a rescue!”
You can now understand my reservations on this occasion. Dressed in the obligatory all in one flying overalls, with a matching silk scarf, I looked the part if nothing else. An hours pre-flight briefing, concentrating I felt on how to abandon ship, I mean plane, in case of any eventuality, I was lead to my fate by young Donald, an experienced good looking Harrier Jet pilot with the Royal Navy (life was looking up just a little now!).
“OK, Vanessa, propeller into action, it will be a little bumpy and noisy on take-off, low clouds, but we ascend very swiftly towards the blue sky” Heaven, I presume, but think of how proud your Dad is at this moment,
“But he died 10 years ago Don and I really don’t want to join him just yet!”
45 minutes later, after one of the most memorable experiences of my life, Don, I and our heroic spitfire landed back at Biggin Hill on the runway and not in a hedge!
J’S’s 4 year facial problem has now been resolved, at last.
After a consultation with Mr Zrinzo, neurosurgeon at the London neurological, and neurosurgical Hospital, Queen’s Square, London, it was suggested that JS had a Microvascular Decompression (MVD) of the Trigeminal nerve, and there was availability June 9th.
Scary but a relief for JS.
24 hours later, Tess rang us to say that the consultant had spoken to her. I must have been in M&S at that time, no reception! And there was a bed available the following week, and could JS make a decision. Tess told him immediately that it would be perfect, and then told her Mum to speed up the organization (life never changes)
Operation on April 1st!
JS admitted the night before. Prior to this I purchased a onesie with matching slippers from John Lewis (you know the sort, very popular apparently during the U.K. winter. A bunny suit you wear when you are about 3 years old, and it has pink bunny ears on the hood, didn’t want him getting cold at night) a silk dressing gown naturally. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to monogram his initials onto the front in case he got lost, but such is life.
Now, I know one should never look up medical procedures on the internet, but I did! (I always veered well away from brain like op’s as a Physio, straightforward hips and knees, that was more my thing, then back onto more important hobbies, like playing golf at Edg.) I found this American site, 4 pages long, which didn’t miss one single gruesome detail of an MVD procedure. Then another 4 pages on the possible after effects of such an operation. Deleted it all quickly, in case JS read it, and rang my Mr J for his thoughts on this imminent op.
Reassured and calmed down, I told JS that my mate said it was a necessary operation, a wonderful hospital, and how lucky he was to have the opportunity. Sorted.
With my magnificent support team, Mike and Maudie in person, Joe and Val arriving out of the blue with Portuguese tartlets for JS! and I presume the posh bottle of Dutch courage was for the carer’s lonely evenings!! And with the what’s app team of family and friends,Olif survived.
I visited him in recovery, gave a quick kiss, held his hand, whereupon he gazed into my eyes and said,
“Hello Bridget, have you got the Trust sorted now?”
72 hours later, JS was discharged, reluctantly I have to admit. He had rather got used to the caring, gorgeous young Philipino nurses, regularly administering a gentle word of encouragement together with a blissful cocktail of paracetamol and morphine!
No flying for 3 months, so Eurostar came to our rescue, direct in 6 hours from St Pancras to Marseille, first class for the carer, cattle class for the patient, didn’t want him frightening the first class passengers with his war wounds.
Home now, and apart from missing his morphine fix, we are well on the road to recovery.
We cannot thank Mr Zrinzo and all his medical staff for their expertise, patience and care.
Franklin and Tash.
Blissfully happy, have robbed a bank and are in the process of buying land in Callas and designing their first little house; la maison de Poupee as Monsieur et Madame Sieurac, along with Jackson…..the dog!
The Chocolate Drops.
8 months old now, both crawling and looking gorgeous.
“I know you are looking after (Spuggy, TJ’s name for JS!) Mum, but I need you to babysit for a day whilst I go to work”
“Of course, says the Duracell bunny (TJ’s name for me)
In reality, this is a first for Grandma.
This is OK when they are babies, and just sleep, eat and bottom change, but this is big responsible grown up stuff. The chocolate drops actually look at me now and assume I know what I am doing, because they clearly know exactly what they intend to do. As a twin myself, you have this built in sense of survival, because whatever you do you have an immediate mate to back you up, so basically “don’t mess with us babe!”.
A restless night, studying hard ‘the list’ for the little darling’s daily routine. TJ buggers off for a blissful carefree day at work and tells me that looking after twins is like a piece of cake, a walk in the park, even easier than looking after JS!( I don’t think so!)
Abandoned, face to face with Indy and Remy, my task begins. As if to challenge this first time grandma, both do a gigantic poo and crawl in opposite directions, at speed I might add. Must go into Zen mode Olif, whatever this may be, I don’t need Zen here I need Mary Poppins.
Feeding two with finger food and mushy chicken casserole is “not a walk in the park” you can see the missiles coming straight at you; I ended with more on me than in them! 1pm, the ‘list’ tells me it is their sleep time now, yes, yes, yes. No.no.no. Looking wide awake and refueling their little hands with bananas and each with a full water beaker, it’s game, set and almost the match to the twins, Grandma braces herself and gathers Indy up from her high chair and races towards her cot, a massive burp, Indy that is, down with one and one to go. Remy safely in his cot, game, set and match to Grandma.yehhhhhh.
I managed a wee, lunch, washed my clothes and even played with dog during this sleep time. TJ arrived later that afternoon and looked relaxed. Glamorous, all organized, (and presumably got paid hourly!).
I looked like what a grandma should look like with twins for the day, about 100 years old, exhausted and in need of a large glass of wine. Indy and Remy were already concocting some new play thing to annoy grandma, such fun when you there are two.
So, it was an eventful month, an unusual one I have to admit, but the best diet I have ever been on, no time for food, reading the paper, too tired to have a glass of vino and can’t get into bed quickly enough, sadly not for the not obvious reasons.
Life will get better, if the trust comes to fruition, I can get a permanent nurse for JS, two nannies for the chocolate droops, Tess and I can go for a daily Botox session on the Stratford road, but and I would miss the twins smiles and missiles, JS inventing new illnesses, Tash worrying about her new chocolate box in Callas and but the most important thing in life is health and great friends, both of which we are blessed to have.
So, thank you all so much from your constant support during a rather strange year.
An enormous kiss and hug to you all.
Ps. anyone know of a young Philippine nurse willing to look after a keen plane spotter, occasional golfer and answers to Bridget? Love Js. Xxx
With all my love
Mike and Maudie: How can we ever thank you for your support for JS and particularly Olif. Timing was perfect, company was necessary, the white wine or two was even more necessary, so sorry there were no lifts in your hotel! Xxx now for the grammar! (Fixed – Gerbil)
Cag. My, ROCK, as always, bet you have never what’s app.someone so often during the ironing!!xx
Honor. Continual support before, during and after. Thank you.xxx
Buzz,Kate,Big Man, always there with encouraging words and sensible solutions.xxx
TJ and Tash. Thank you, we promise not to worry you for anything for a long time.xxx
Em and D.thank you for the supporting texts everyday. Xxx
Jill. Always there to have a chat to.thank you.
JS. Now give Olif a break please, do not develop any other unusual illness!!!!
Joe and Val. Once again, we thank you both for all your advice, reassurance, laughter and support. I only drank half the bottle of port, in the hour of need of course!! JS woofed ALL the tarts down in one go! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
David Biggles. How impressed I was when you did the spitfire Victory Roll.