Memories: The Lancaster

This memory is from before I was nine, and it is one of a very small group of memories involving my Uncle Terry. My Uncle Terry was my mother’s older brother, he died around my ninth birthday from a heart attack. He was the first relative I had who died and I wasn’t allowed to go to his funeral as I was thought to be too young. I watched Snow White at the house of a lady my grandparents knew and all I remember is her awful wallpaper and brussel-sprout-green tiles around her gas heater.

Uncle Terry was an engineer in the RAF and he worked on the old WWII planes when I knew him, he was part of the BBMF crew based at Coningsby and we often used to go and visit him whilst he was at work – we lived in Hertfordshire during term time but spent all our holidays in Derbyshire. When we visited Coningsby we didn’t have to stay with the visitors in the visitors area, we got to go and run around the wheels of the planes and go inside them too. I’ve sat in the pilot’s seat of every WWII plane in the BBMF – we even have photos of me pretending to fly a spitfire – they are great memories and I am incredibly privileged to have had such intimate access to these planes.

On one particular visit the planes were all outside and I was climbing around inside the Lancaster Bomber. I was scrambling back into the main fuselage  from the rear gunners turret when Uncle Terry climbed in and told me it had started raining. I thought nothing of it but then he said to hold on as we were going to move I knew something was different. I looked around the cramped fuselage and wondered how on earth I would reach the yellow bars that I was allowed to hold – ‘don’t grab onto anything that’s not yellow’ had been drummed into me on every visit and I really didn’t want to be the person who broke the Bomber by holding the wrong bit. The only problem was everything that was yellow was quite high up, so I leaned on a desk (the wireless operators desk to be precise) and looked at all the dials in front of me. And then to my shock the engines roared into life. It was thundering inside and I got excited. Herds of wildebeest were stampeding around my stomach and tying it in knots as I grinned and felt the plane lurch forward – my Uncle tried to explain that we were moving into the hangar because of the rain but all I hear were engines. It turns out it was quicker move with the kids inside than wait to haul us all out. So, with my Uncle Terry holding on to the yellow bars and my sister nearby, we taxied into the hangar. I thought this was great fun and only years later did I realise the significance of my ride in the Lancaster. I will be forever thankful to the Great British weather for changing so quickly from sunshine to downpour.

The ride didn’t last long, and we continued to play inside the plane once it was inside (my uncle had to help lift me into the upper gunners turret). I don’t have many memories of Uncle Terry because I was so young when he died, but this one I will treasure forever. Not just because I shared it with my him, but whenever I think about it I remember all those who died in WWII and that never was so much owed by so many to so few.

March: Memories Challenge

I will write up my experiences of The Happiness Challenge at some point, but for now I need to introduce the challenge for March. This one will be called Memories Challenge and I think the title gives it away.

I got some bad news today – horrible news that my dog is terminally ill and doesn’t have long left at all. This was a shock as the illness came on so quickly that none of us even thought it could be cancer, that it would be so aggressive and that we would have so little time left with her. So I decided to create this memories challenge. Every day I will write about a happy memory involving someone (or something, pets count too) I’ve lost, or lost contact with. These memories become faded over time and perhaps by writing about them I will strengthen them, so they don’t disappear altogether. And perhaps by sharing them I will help others remember happy memories from their own lives. I write this blog for me, to change my life and to grow – The Happiness Challenge made an enormous, positive difference to my life and I think it had an impact on others. I know that this challenge will have a positive impact too – definitely on me, and possibly on those who read it.

I will start tomorrow. Tonight I want to go to sleep and forget the news I was given this afternoon, I know I will remember it as soon as I wake up and I will deal with that when it happens. For now, I am going to remember every happy moment I’ve ever had with Daisy. Then she is in my thoughts, and in some way it makes me feel like that will help her. I don’t know how, but I really hope it does.

The Happiness Challenge: 29

 

I love my family. They make me happy.

I still live with my parents – moving out is expensive and I am not financially ready for it. It’ll come in time but right now it’s not an option. So I live with my parents, and I love it. I love that being around them has made us much closer than I ever could have imagined. And the fact that my sisters moved out means that we all get along so much better – I miss seeing them every day but I am so happy that we are now closer than ever.

In the evenings I have a hot drink with my mum, and at the weekends I have breakfast with my dad. They won’t be around forever, and I hate that thought and try not to entertain it too often, so I cherish every moment I have with them now. I am always happy to do things with them (days out, watching films, holidays and meals) and I know that spending this time together makes them happy to. And that just makes me happier! I can’t tell everyone to spend time with their family – not everybody gets along with their family and that’s ok. Just remember all the good times and try and make a few more if you can. I’ll certainly be making plenty with parents and siblings. I’ll even try and make a few with my cousins, aunts, uncles and one remaining grandparent. They are not going to be here forever – and neither am I – so I will make the most of them now.

Cherish your family. You may not choose them like you choose your friends, but one day they will be the only ones you share precious family memories with.

The Happiness Challenge: 28

I love taking my bra off. It makes me happy.

This one will only be understood by anyone who has worn an underwired bra for more than 12 hours. It’s uncomfortable at best, at worst it’s like someone constantly squeezing your ribs in and preventing you from breathing. That’s why it makes me so happy to go bra-free in the evening. I’m very fortunate in that I am not large; I can get away with not wearing a bra (but I prefer how I look with a bra). That means when I finally free myself in the evening I don’t wobbly like a half-set jelly, I just look pretty much the same. Taking my bra off can also, sometimes, immediately get rid of a headache, stop my shoulders from aching and let me breathe freely.  Sometimes I go through the day without a bra, and it feels naughty to not wear one in public – that always makes me laugh because it’s childish and silly. The best things usually are.

I suppose the male equivalent is taking pants off – maybe? If they’re tighty-whiteys then I would assume definitely. Or maybe the same as taking off tight skinny jeans, or slightly too small shoes? I’m not sure if everyone would agree there’s a male equivalent, I just know that taking my bra off makes me unbelievably happy.

Try it. Go bra-free for an afternoon. I promise, it will make you smile.

The Happiness Challenge: 27

I love letting someone else make the decisions. It makes me happy.

The easiest way to describe this is through the medium of transport. I currently drive my car to and from work and sometimes it can be very stressful. Traffic is not my friend, especially unexpected traffic – I have planned my journey according to normal traffic and when I find myself in a long queue of cars that shouldn’t be there I start stressing. I used to work in central London and I got the train to/from work every day. This commute wasn’t in the slightest bit stressful because the delays were not my fault and entirely out of my control. This takes all the stress of travel away and is fantastic.

This is the same as letting someone else make the decisions. I don’t do it very often but I really like it when I do. I find that I learn a lot more about myself from how I deal with whatever is chosen than when I do the choosing; I have more time for reflection when not choosing and that always means I grow as a person.

Try it. Relinquish your power and just go with whatever is chosen.

The Happiness Challenge: 26

I love being productive. It makes me happy.

Today I spent 11 hours going through three years worth of accounts. Voluntarily too. Although tedious, frustrating and shocking it was incredibly productive. As I write this, wrapped up in my duvet, I feel like I have achieved something and that I’ve earned my rest. I have definitely earned my rest.

I can barely keep my eyes open – although when I close them all I see are accounts and numbers and invoices.

I’m going to try being productive again tomorrow. It makes me happy.

The Happiness Challenge: 25

I love good news. It makes me happy.

This one is really easy to write. I got some outstanding news today from my best friend and I am over the moon for her (her news, not mine). I can’t share the news as it’s not mine to share, but I am overwhelmingly happy for her and her family. I don’t need to explain this one. I’m not even going to try.

Good news makes me happy. Unbelievably happy.