Demolition and Development

In 1955 Queen Elizabeth officially opened new buildings in the centre of what was then London Airport; the Europa Terminal ( which later became Terminal 2 ) and The Queen’s Building with its offices and roof gardens. In 2009 they were demolished to make way for a new Terminal 2. The Queen has outlived her own historic buildings. In the meantime, in the nearby historic Harmondsworth Village mentioned in the Doomsday Book, The Great Barn built in 1426 still stands.

The Queen opens London Airport terminal, 1955 – BBC Archivehttps://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/queen-opens-london-airport-terminal/zdvd92p

‘Built by Winchester College as part of its manor farm at Harmondsworth, the oak-framed barn is an outstanding example of medieval carpentry and contains one of the most intact interiors of its era. At nearly 60 metres long, 12 metres wide and 11 metres tall, with 13 massive oak trusses holding up the roof, both its size and aisles evoke the space and shape of a cathedral.‘ It is now under the care of English Heritage; when we lived nearby it was on private land and only open to the public occasionally, but one visit was enough to stand inside and be awestruck. It was heart breaking to hear that Harmondsworth Village could be demolished to make way for a third runway. There was ridiculous talk of moving the barn and in 2015 our future Prime Minister famously said, as MP for the Uxbridge constituency near the airport, that he would “lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway”.

Harmondsworth Barn | English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk)https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/harmondsworth-barn/

The barn is still there and there is no third runway yet, but Heathrow Village must be the most changed and continually changing patch of grade A agricultural land in Britain; perhaps not in the whole world, Dubai and China might compete for that honour. There will still be people who remember a few tents being put up by the Bath Road in the 1940s; many years ago an old lady told me they looked across the road from their house and thought those few tents would not make much difference to them…

When our family emigrated to Australia in 1964 we left on a chartered migrant flight from London Airport on a Saturday afternoon. We walked across the tarmac to the steps of the plane and waved to our relatives standing on a balcony; just as well we could wave as we had arrived late at the airport ( that’s another story ) and had no time to chat to them. So there was no time for pictures, or perhaps Dad had no camera till he bought one in duty free during the trip.

Pictures from my father’s album.

In the late 70s, early 80s you could still go up on the Queen’s Building roof gardens; there was a playground for the children and it was a playground for plane enthusiasts who sat with their sandwiches and radios listening in to the control tower and incoming aircraft. But Heathrow has always been a continual building site, constantly adding bits on or demolishing. I occasionally worked in the old Terminal 2 and as you went through and down into the staff airside area, the ceilings seemed to get lower and lower, a security chap told me they felt like pit ponies… so perhaps this building was ready for demolition.

While I was working at Terminal Three it was being modernised, yet again. In Singapore business lounge our passengers went out on the last flight of the night and when we locked up and walked through the main departure lounge it was totally deserted, very different from what the passengers experienced. As we went out through the staff exit the builders would be coming in, nearly decapitating us as they wielded planks and all sorts of equipment.

One day going into work I got off the bus as usual, down to the subway and moving walkways, up into Terminal 3 Arrivals, turned left to step on to the up escalator that was there the day before and nearly fell over, it had disappeared. Another night our late flight was delayed and I was the only one heading for a particular staff exit… but when I got there it wasn’t there, it wasn’t just closed, there was no sign that it had ever been there in the first place. A story idea for sure, I was suddenly trapped in the no man’s land of Airside, would I ever see my home again? Luckily I saw a security bloke and said ‘I know you won’t believe this, but I can’t seem to find the staff exit.’ Luckily I wasn’t going mad, he directed me to the new exit.

One of my colleagues told me that he had a job in the ‘Irish Pub’ in the departures lounge. He went on holiday back to the Philippines for three months, returned, put on his uniform for work, went in and couldn’t find ‘the pub’ – restaurants and bars had five year leases and were always disappearing to be replaced by something completely different.

We moved away in 2004 and only a few years later we went to meet someone at Heathrow and parked in the Terminal 3 multi-storey car park. I had this feeling I could not get my bearings. Absolutely nothing looked how I remembered. It turned out the original car park had been demolished and a new one built further back, creating a pleasant plaza effect. If you ever want to know how to find your way round Heathrow, don’t ask me!

Have you had a Heathrow experience, good or bad?

My short story ‘Fog’ in my Dark and Milk collection was inspired by the third runway controversy and a few thoughts on what might have been…

My novel Quarter Acre Block is inspired by our family’s experience of being Ten Pound Pommies.

Beautiful Bird

Concorde was like a beautiful bird when she took off… and noisy, but that was part of the thrill. If there had been frequent flights taking off I’m sure the novelty would have worn off and there would have been plenty of complaints about the noise. Teachers in local schools automatically stopped talking at 11am when the morning flight left for New York. Once, I was taking the children to the police Christmas party being held at the BAA club on the airport side of the Bath Road. As we got off the bus Concorde landed on the northern runway and my youngest burst into tears. That close the noise made your breast bone vibrate.

Our last home at Heathrow was the nearest to Heathrow and on the edge of Harlington Village with fields and skylarks on the other side of the hedge. Our daughter had the end bedroom and her wardrobe vibrated when Concorde took off. On winter evenings at 7pm I would abandon the cooking and dash outside to see her afterburners, bright in the night sky.

Concorde was the future.

A Puffin children’s book!

Air France Flight 4590 was an international charter flight, from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris to John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, flown by an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde. On the afternoon of Tuesday, 25 July 2000 at 16:44:31 local time, the aircraft ran over debris on the runway during take off, blowing a tyre, and sending debris flying into the underside of the left wing, and into the landing gear bay.  A terrible omen perhaps that the 21st century was not going to be what we hoped for.

Following the accident, all Concordes were grounded for almost a year with the introduction of new safety improvements such as Kevlar-lined fuel tanks and better electrical controls. But spiralling maintenance costs for the 30-year-old aircraft, led to British Airways and Air France’s joint announcement on 10 April 2003 that the planes would be retired that year.

The last French plane touched down in Toulouse on 27 June, while BA’s fleet left service on 24 October, with three aircraft landing in sequence at London Heathrow.

Concorde was about to become history and we remembered the proud and happy times.  My younger son says there was a lot of pride in having your windows rattling and everything falling off the shelves when Concorde took off.

Cyberspouse spent his entire thirty years with the Metropolitan Police at Heathrow Airport. One time when he was on the Airside Traffic Unit they visited Concorde in her hangar and he asked the pilot if he could take  pictures of the cockpit. He was invited to take a seat.

In 1996 Heathrow Airport celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a flypast that included Concorde. The planes had to take off from Stansted Airport and children from local schools were invited to have a ride on Concorde to Stansted, but home by coach, they were not allowed to stay on board for the flypast. One child from each year at each school was chosen and our older son got the lucky ticket. Parents were told they were not going supersonic, but they did. These are his impressions of the flight.

I remember it being a lot smaller on the inside than you would think. The windows were tiny. And when it takes off, it goes really steep and then they cut the afterburners and it feels like your belly drops about 100 ft. Apart from that it was very smooth and pleasant. Going supersonic was not like anything really, it was just a number going up. The only jumpy bit was the take-off.

One time Cyberspouse and I decided to cycle to Windsor and we were just cycling through Colnbrook Village when Concorde took off right over our heads – that was the closest I ever got.

In Concorde’s last years I was working in a British Airways Business lounge with a perfect picture window view of the southern runway and the highlight of the morning was of course the 11am take off. Raymond the cleaner, our resident grumpy old chap, loved Concorde, said she was his baby and the only time he came to life was at 11am. As soon as he heard her he would race across the lounge to the window, sending passengers flying… But we never tired of seeing her take off.

Heathrow Airport 50th Anniversary Flypast 1996 (Full programme) – Pt 4 of 5 – YouTube

On The Radio

What can any blogger write that doesn’t involve mentioning Covid, Brexit, The White House or the fact that a new year has started? Let us retreat to where most of us are at the moment, home. Home comforts, or what I now call Covid Comforts are keeping us going. If you are reading this it is unlikely you are in a refugee camp, an intensive care unit or a war zone; for that we should be grateful. If you look around your home I wonder how many modern wonders provide your life support system? The internet obviously, books, television, central heating, on line shopping, computer games. Before any of those was The Word, okay so radio came quite a while after the beginning of the Old Testament, but the first modern invention in my life was the radio, long before I could read, even before I could walk or talk music was seeping into my bones thanks to the BBC. Before I was born my parents were listening to programmes that are still being broadcast; The Archers, Desert Island Discs and Woman’s Hour.

Woman’s Hour has just had its seventy fifth birthday and received a letter from The Queen. When Dame Jenni Murray ( a national institution ) announced she was leaving after thirty three years, followed soon after by a similar announcement by Jane Garvey, who has been with the programme for thirteen years, my immediate thoughts were You can’t do this, not in the middle of a pandemic and my mother and husband have just died… As I have been listening at least since our first baby was born forty one years ago, there have been other favourite presenters, the programme will survive.  The modern mother can listen on her iPhone while breastfeeding in the dark watches of the night. Many men also listen and people of all ages can hear the programme in the car or when out jogging. Very different from the early days when it was broadcast at 2pm and mothers were presumed to be sitting down for a rest after lunch while their babies were having their nap. There is fun, but there are dark topics. I imagine there is no controversial issue that has not been covered on the programme, Woman’s Hour is where we first heard about FMG. The final quarter of the hour is a serial, there is always something for everyone.

Woman’s Hour: The Queen sends ‘best wishes’ to show on its 75th year – BBC Newshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-55527576

In that 2020 strange sunny spring and summer of isolation, Cyberspouse listened to Woman’s Hour every morning over our leisurely breakfasts in the sun lounge. BBC Radio Four in the mornings is packed with interesting programmes and three different serials. Thanks to Amazon I bought two more digital radios to add to our collection.

There is much more to say about radio; such as why are we fascinated by the shipping forecast… but that’s for another blog. For now here is something cheery, one of my early memories that I just heard on the radio. Light music is what we all need at the moment and there have been memorable tunes composed on both sides of the Atlantic. This is one for writers by Leroy Anderson, though I don’t think he could have written a piece about computers…

The Typewriter Leroy Anderson Martin Breinschmid with Strauß Festival Orchestra Vienna – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=g2LJ1i7222c

What are your Covid Comforts? Do you have favourite radio presenters and programmes?

Pipe Dreams

Today I welcome another guest blog by my sister in Australia. When our family first emigrated to Perth in 1964, going up in the hills to see Mundaring Weir overflowing was a regular outing…

Pipe Dreams by Kate Doswell

As a child, I was both fascinated and saddened by the story of Charles Yelverton O’Connor – always referred to as C. Y. O’Connor. As Western Australia’s Chief engineer at the turn of the last century, he was responsible, amongst other things, for the design and construction of Fremantle Harbour, WA’s main shipping port and – more famously – for the Kalgoorlie pipeline.

Kalgoorlie was the scene of WA’s massive gold rush and by the early 1900s was a busy town; the engine for much of the wealth and development of the fledgling state. The drawback was that it was in an arid area 560 isolating and harsh kilometres from the capital city of Perth. Supplies of water were a major stumbling block to further development and an answer needed to be found.

C. Y. O’Connor had the audacious idea to build a pipeline to take water from Perth to Kalgoorlie, a feat never attempted before over such a large distance. It would involve construction of a large dam at Mundaring, in the hills above the swan coastal plain. The project would require pumping stations at Mundaring and along the route, and steel pipes big enough to carry sufficient water.

It is ultimately a story of triumph – a brilliant idea, carefully planned and skilfully executed, a triumph made even more incredible considering its achievement by a small, isolated European settlement transplanted into an ancient country only 70 years before. But it is also a sad story. C. Y. O’Connor never lived to see its success; he committed suicide. The story I heard as a child was that the tap was turned on at Mundaring, but due to a miscalculation the water took longer than expected to reach Kalgoorlie. C.Y. O’Connor thought he had failed. He rode his favourite horse out into the surf at a Perth beach and drowned himself. The timing wasn’t quite that poignant, but the fact remains that he was driven to a state of despair by the critical and unrelenting attack mounted against him by the foremost (and possibly only) newspaper of the day, The West Australian (still the only state based newspaper in WA). His other major critic and tormentor was the Premier of the state, John Forrest, though he was happy to share in the credit once it was a success.

I recently visited the weir for the first time in many years, and it was an occasion for reflection on its place in our history. Completed in 1903, it was the longest freshwater pipeline in the world at the time, the first to use steel pipes and fed by the highest dam in the Southern hemisphere. In 2009 it was recognised as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers, only the 3rd in Australia and 47th in the world to be awarded, alongside the Panama Canal and the Golden Gate Bridge.

On a more personal level, I remember as a child we visited the weir often, as a family and as part of a youth group with a campsite nearby. I always found it interesting and it has a beautiful setting, surrounded by hills and jarrah forest. As a teenager, my family moved to a wheatbelt town, and the water we drank came from the pipe. The pipe ran under our front garden, though I hasten to add we didn’t have a tap connected directly, since the size of the pipe means it stands as tall as a person when it runs above the ground.

 Not only had the pipe delivered water to the miners, it had also allowed the opening up of agricultural towns along the route. It is a constant feature running beside the roads, dipping underground to go through towns, then re-emerging on the other side. It is a guide; I can remember doing a walk-a-thon to raise money, and the route was simple. Just follow the pipeline, you can’t get lost! You can even walk on it if you feel adventurous and have good balance.

My recent visit also gave me pause for thought about our current environmental crises. Perth has traditionally relied to a large part on water from our various dams, but with climate change our rainfall has fallen considerably in the past 20 years. The last time the weir overflowed was in 1996, and visiting some years later it was sad and worrying to see the sloping gravel sides of the dam exposed by the falling water levels, a raw wound running around the circumference of the dam. It was a relief to see a much higher level last week, the water lapping the edge of the forest, but I was disillusioned to discover the pipe that pumped water into the dam from our desalination plant. I reasoned that it was necessary, as the weir still supplies Kalgoorlie and the towns on the way, but to me it was a tangible reminder that we in Australia were failing to take seriously the dangers of climate change. On the driest continent on earth, predicted to suffer most from a warming and drying climate, our politicians and right winged newspapers are happy to sabotage any efforts to address this urgent issue, preferring instead to criticise and lampoon scientists and concerned citizens, and to wilfully ignore the changes we see around us.

As I walked away from the weir lookout it occurred to me; things had not changed much since C.Y. O’Connor’s day.

My novel was inspired by our experiences when our parents emigrated with three children in 1964.

Advent Calendar – Wednesday Twenty Third of December

Today’s window peeps into one of the most famous Christmas stories. A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in 1843. It recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man.

The story has been filmed or inspired films many times and as you are probably busy getting ready for Christmas, why not watch this five minute Lego version?

A LEGO Christmas Carol (In 5 Minutes) – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWnMapyZi-k

Advent Calendar – Tuesday Twenty Second of December

The calendar has already opened on a ballet, so today’s window opens on an opera popular at Christmas.

 Hansel and Gretel  was composed in 1891/1892 by nineteenth-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck The libretto was written by his sister, based on the Grimm Brothers’ dark fairy tale of brother and sister lost in the forest and finding the witch’s gingerbread house. The first video is the evening prayer the children sing as they fall asleep in the forest.

Hansel and Gretel: Evening Prayer (Aleksandra Kurzak, Kate Lindsey) – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK7lPC1jodw

The second piece has its own magic. On 19 June 1929, 250  children from 52 local schools, the Manchester Children’s Choir, travelled by tram to the Free Trade Hall in Manchester to record Nymphs and Shepherds by Henry Purcell with the Hallé Orchestra, under the direction of Sir Hamilton Harty. It was issued on Columbia 9909, a 12in 78rpm disc that cost four shillings and sixpence and sold 1million copies. The B side was the Dance Duet from Hansel and Gretel.

Dance Duet.wmv – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NevoVhkzwRc

You can read here about the choir and the wonderful musical play Victoria Wood wrote about the poignant reunion of the choir.

Victoria Wood recalls a historic day for Manchester music | Victoria Wood | The Guardianhttps://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2011/jun/30/victoria-wood-historic

Advent Calendar – Sunday Twentieth of December

Today peep through the window to a traditional Christmas scene, carols from King’s College Cambridge. The choir are singing ‘The Angle Gabriel’ and you can see what happens to sweet little choir boys when they grow up in the second YouTube video.

The Angel Gabriel : Kings College, Cambridge – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pliqObTHxUQ&feature=emb_logo

You can listen to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast live at 3pm on BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve, as it has been since 1928. Patrick Magee, the senior chorister, wrote casually of this first broadcast in his journal “Christmas Eve. Practice 10-12.45. Go out to dinner with Mum and Dad. Carol service broadcasted. Comes off well. I read a lessons and sing a solo in ‘Lullay’.” You can watch the carols later on BBC 2 at 5.30pm. This Covid year the choir will be socially distanced and there will be no congregation, I wonder how different that will look and sound?

Carols From King’s: How a tradition was made (theartsdesk.com)https://www.theartsdesk.com/books-classical-music/carols-kings-how-tradition-was-made

THE KING’S SINGERS The angel Gabriel – Basilica S.Nicolò di Lecco 2 dicembre 2019 – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdHcNkSe5W4

Advent Calendar – Thursday Seventeenth of December

Today is the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, or at least the anniversary of the day he was baptised, but he has been celebrating all year; though like everyone else, he had to cancel all his live concerts and parties. So today’s window opens in Germany once more, to a very special Christmas performance and plenty of  Freude!

Freude! Freude! … Alle Menschen warden Brüder. / Joy! Joy! … All men shall become brothers.

On December 23rd 1989, only a month and a half after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein led a concert in West Berlin. Two days later, on Christmas Day, he led an identical concert across the border, in what was previously East Germany. The music was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Ode to Joy was first written in 1785 by German poet Friedrich Schiller as a celebration of the brotherhood of man. Beethoven set the words for the final, choral movement of the Symphony completed in 1824. Having soloists and a choir burst into joyful singing in a symphony was revolutionary, but it has obviously stood the test of time.

Bernstein made one change for this two-concert series: he directed the choir to sing “Freiheit” (freedom) instead of “Freude” (joy).

4th Movement – part 2 – Ode to Freedom – 1989 – Leonard Bernstein – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony HD 720p – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IciKr8NUmKs

The Ode to Joy is also the anthem of The European Union; an instrumental ( and much shorter ! ) version for a continent of many languages. Alas for British Remainers, this music is now a bitter reminder of the Brexit disaster and all that we are about to lose. Luckily Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union and adhering to Schiller and Beethoven’s optimism and belief in the brotherhood of man – brotherhood in the figurative inclusive sense .

European Union International Anthem – “Ode To Joy” (Instrumental) – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ecrJaA_mXg

Advent Calendar – Wednesday Sixteenth of December

Today’s window opens joyfully in Germany. Jauchzet, frohlocket! ( Shout for joy ) is a 1734 Christmas cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach that forms the first part of his  Christmas Oratorio. It was incorporated within services of the two most important churches in Leipzig, St. Thomas’ and St. Nicholas’. Bach, a devout Lutheran, composed music for the Lutheran Church and was Thomaskantor responsible for church music at four churches in  Leipzig. Enjoy this music in a beautiful Dresden church.

J.S. Bach WO – BWV 248 Teil1 “Jauchzet frohlocket ” aus der Frauenkirche Dresden. – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlwcZT1XVss

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) was a composer, organist and violinist widely regarded as one of the greatest classical composers of all time. Not only did he compose great works every week for church services, but his home life was also busy, though full of tragedy. He was devoted to his family. In 1706 he married his cousin Maria Barbara Bach. The couple had seven children together, some of whom died as infants. Maria died in 1720. The following year Bach married a singer named Anna Magdalena Wülcken. They had thirteen children, more than half of them died as children. But he still managed to leave the world so much.

You can read the poignant history of that amazing church with this link.

Dresden Frauenkirche | Landeshauptstadt Dresdenhttps://www.dresden.de/en/05/Dresden-Frauenkirche.php

Advent Calendar – Sunday Thirteenth of December

Today’s window opens in France with L’adieu des bergers – The Shepherd’s Farewell, not as we might imagine, the shepherds taking their sheep back to the hills after visiting the new baby Jesus.

L’enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, first performed on 10 December 1854, with Berlioz conducting. The second part of his sacred trilogy shows Mary, Joseph and Jesus setting out for Egypt to avoid the slaughter of the innocents, having been warned by angels.

And what a journey lay ahead with Jesus now a lively toddler, from Bethlehem to an unnamed location in Egypt. If they headed for the big city, Alexandria, it could be about 320 miles as the crow flies. On motorways this is a long journey with young children, even with the electronic entertainment modern parents install in their cars. What route Mary and Joseph followed we do not know, so it is likely the journey was longer than 320 miles and arduous.

Académie de musique de Paris – Berlioz – L’Adieu des bergers à la Sainte-Famille – YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4Qx4QBeekE