Join Date: Jun 2005
Been thinking about DH - what a seminal figure he was - an inspiration to all who knew him . Also more broadly about this website and the strange diversity of opinion, manners and knowledge .
One conclusion is that this is a place reminiscent of a dysfunctional family. While many who come by are quite bright and add lustre to the cluster, some are abrasive, if not outright offensive, nasty. The figjams, the narks, the know-alls, the irrational, those labouring under huge overburdens of hubris, with loads more of it out the back, the petty and the still wet behind the ears, these latter usually conscientious, and who in time, by heeding the counsel of wiser heads, learning to savour the delights of an open mind, themselves may progress, becoming part of that universal fraternity where minds are ever open to new and broader perspectives. They may in time acquire the useful knack of looking afresh at old verities, of clearing cluttered mental slates so as to on a new day say "Ah . . . . now I think I see how best to approach this problem . . .or that tortuous argument", or think, "That is such a beautiful notion, sight, piece of work, or personality . . . . why couldn't I see that before?"
There are probably many coming in and out of here either infrequently or otherwise rarely finding the time or inclination to go back and look at the wealth of inspiring stuff contributed over the years. If so, they are missing out on a large body of wise opinion or dissertation of a factual nature or just wonderfully expressed firsthand accounts. The late Les Mikey often comes to mind and to reread his illuminating and at times moving posts can be like a shot in the arm. Les called himself in a self-deprecating way, at least that's my opinion, 'Duke Elegant'. It is probably unfair and unrepresentative to single out other, living, notable identities, but it is hard not to instance 'Flying Lawyer'. To go back and read his extensive contributions to informed, rational and balanced debate is a refreshing exercise. That he is also an airman passionate and eloquent about many aspects of flight, fliers and notable aeroplanes is a bonus.
Those who would out of hand damn 'the law', it's practitioners and all it has come to represent today, know little of those in the profession who are steadfast upholders of fairmindedness and compassion. It's hard to say whether they are rarities or not, but they are certainly altruistic, never cynical about justice, ever acutely aware of those unfit to administer or counsel at any level. More broadly, let the wiseacres scoff, for they are blind to the fact that the inherently moral, ethical unswervingly principled do exist in all walks of life. It may be that they possess strongly secular frames of mind, at the same time rejecting any insinuation that they are at all irreligious. They know the universal significance and the part, the vital part, that love and loving play in a full and balanced life. Their humour, more often than not, is acute, understated and delightfully idiosyncratic. There is nothing about them that could be called trite, banal, laboured or crass. They also often show the hallmarks of childlike innocence, while not blind to suffering, corruption, evil and ugliness. The inexplicable, the puzzling, may be all around and yet not precipitate unbearable agony, grief or bewilderment. Detachment without indifference is eventually acquired.
'Flight International' had an outstanding editor in JM (Mike) Ramsden. He epitomised the gifted commentator on matters aeronautical and beyond that the poms have thrown up from time to time over decades past. It is sometimes recommended that we should each of us, every day, have pause to think about those who stand out like beacons in whatever area of endeavour we are involved. For Mike Ramsden the man who inspired him above all others was Sir Geoffrey de Havilland. Mike, when a young apprentice with the firm, on several occasions had seen firsthand what an exceptional man his boss was. One day, by some quirk of fate it fell to him to go to DH's office bearing shocking news of a tragedy affecting DH, his family and the business. Mike was deeply and indelibly moved by the humane and innately sympathetic response he witnessed that day. Upon the passing of DH, Mike wrote that another revered doyen of the British aircraft industry made the comment "He was that rarest of individuals - a man perfect in every conceivable way, wise beyond words, incapable of a mean or unkind thought or deed."