This picture was taken in 2004, my 40th Birthday. I’m the guy in the red T-shirt, to my left, in the right of the picture I have my arm around Ken Warn. Ken was my friend and neighbour in North Somerset, he was a self-made millionaire who sold his fibre optic contracting company back in the day and chose in his post-career days to take up Flying helicopters. Smiley Miley another neighbour organised with the help of Ollie the other guy in the picture far left along with Jamie another friend a surprise trip to Flat Holm in the Bristol channel for a Champagne breakfast.
Ken and I were nodding acquaintances after I moved to Bristol in 2003 where I had bought the Belmont Estate from the executors to the Tyntesfield Estate of Lord Wraxall.
Ken had bought one of the Farms from the estate several years earlier and Smiley had also bought one of the other Estate properties an old mill house. Smiley knew Lord Wraxall very well and used to refer to him affectionately as Lordy.
Ken and I spent a lot of time together in the 6 years or so after this picture was taken quite a number of hours we spent flying in his Helicopter. One such flight I would like to recount.
One morning Ken called me and asked if I fancied going to lunch up in Mid Wales, it was a lovely morning and I always enjoyed our jaunts so agreed immediately. I jumped into my Aston Vanquish and sped down to Home Farm, it was only 5 minutes drive if that. We had a coffee went out the back where Ken kept his Heli and and ken called into the Bristol tower for flight plan instructions and filed his bearings, cleared for take-off we flared the tail gathered speed and rose over the tree line and gained altitude so that all around us I could see the vista around Belmont, Wraxall, Nailsea Failand and out across the Severn towards the Severn Bridges.
Ken put us on our bearing NNW north, north-west towards mid wales. As we sped towards the Bridge Cardiff Air traffic cam over the cans, Inbound Spitfire to Cardiff.
We looked around and caught a glint in the distance closing in. Ken radioed “Eyeball Spitfire going to 800 feet”. The Spitfire cruised majestically past us at around 1200 feet.
The altitudes may be a little ropey from memory but the moment was magical, Ken and I beamed grins as wide as the river Severn at each other and smiled our boyish delight at sharing such an experience. The flight logs of Cardiff airport will have a log of the radio messages and flight plans for the Spitfire and the helicopter that was back in 2009 the Global Financial crisis had begun to bite into both of our business interests and we had both been very worried about various financial challenges , but all that for that moment were forgotten as we remembered those few.
“Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few”
Ken committed Suicide, its the subject of a song I wrote Hecuba Screams. Ken in his Avon Aviation Land Rover was found on a quiet corner of part of his own land near his old family home in Failand, having ended his life in a way which people who research the subject thoroughly would ( apologies to Patsy, Ollie and Abby for getting this wrong in the original version of this, I think of you all often and also of Ken ) . I blame the Global Financial Crisis.
My fascination with helicopters started with light aircraft and an old business partner Robert Woolard , Robert had an aerobatic twin winged tail dragging beauty of a , what we all called “Stunt Plane” and lived in a house with a couple of commercial airline pilots so my group of wealthy fast lane business friends and I used to hire light aircraft to fly off to la toquet to play golf or to visit prospective development and investment deals.
I realised that with a helicopter it was possible to get a really good sense of the context of a location to the chimney pots roundabout. Counting chimney pots had been drummed into me in my days as a graduate trainee at Rapleys and Shell UK the out of town retailers and motor trade guys were obsessed by such things. The view from a helicopter was a chimney spotters dream. I was a Chimney pot spotter. Rubbernecking for sale signs whilst careering down motorways in my old Jag XJs, my ex-wife used to dread the white knuckle rides that often ensued should a new for sale board appear on the horizon.
Where something promising resulted I would often hire a Heli and a pilot and go back for the “heli” view to decide if I would make a play or an introduction to the stable of North London property Speculators I counted as friends and clients.
So why the stretching of this metaphor you may well ask, well its this. From a broader view and perspective, it is possible to see connected locations, let’s think of locations as circumstance or information or Market intelligence. only by standing back can we see possible connections blockages and subtexts.
I was inspired to make this experiment in multimedia liveblogging today by This Blog on London Conversation
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Many years ago I was asked by the London Docklands Development Corporation ( LDDC) to give a talk at the new East London University campus in the Royal Docks. The Talk was about the Internet and its future development path. I was asked as I had Put together a Large Data centre and Innovation community development called EAST14.Com, The idea had been to build a Networked Village.