Thursday, 10 September 2015

Now I know why they’re called drones…

Until yesterday, I had not visited Upper Tysoe’s windmill to say hello to its shiny new prosthetic sails (‘prails’?) at close quarters (an addition that warms me with a feeling of quite some empathy). But, ‘encouraged’ outdoors by a clingy migraine, I decided This Was The Time. As I climbed Windmill Hill, I could see, in the far distance, what looked like a buzzard circling the summit – but it appeared to be flying backwards (perhaps for Christmas). It soon disappeared, though: and – momentarily forgotten – the only animate beings remaining were me, and the young cows in the next field: utterly accomplished in the disdain they demonstrated for their latest passer-by.

I had joked, before I set off, about our most significant landmark (since the sad bygone erasure of the sequence of Red Horses) now resembling the first obstacle on a Brobdingnagian crazy-golf course: with its stubby, fixed-lattice blades – perhaps locked deliberately in the ‘celebration’ position (which would seem appropriate). Although the sails are reasonably faithful to the design shown in the 1930s (after the tower mill went out of use, around 1914), they are considerably, disproportionately smaller; oh, and appear to be set to sweep in the wrong direction….

However, after so much time – first, with rotting stocks (below); and then completely armless (as above) – I am immensely grateful that the time and money has been spent (I presume by Lord Northampton) putting ‘our’ Grade II listed guardian monument on a par with the likes of Napton-on-the-Hill; – although, not yet, perhaps, attaining the high standards of beautiful Berkswell; the chef d’œuvre that is Chesterton (coincidentally, open to the public, this coming weekend); heavenly Heckington; or wonderful Wheatley.

We are just so very fortunate that our remaining mill has not gone the way of so many others: such as Edgehill or Warmington. Although it would be good, of course, to see it open its doors again; and for Kineton’s mill – a bigger sister to Upper Tysoe’s – to receive similar treatment.

What I had witnessed on my ascent – I then first heard, on my descent, before its swooping presence made itself irritatingly known – was some sort of remote-controlled annoyance: emitting the same sound (I imagine) as a freshly-castrated hornet; or possibly Iain Duncan Smith slandering the disabled. Thankfully, it soon disappeared, after its circuit of me and the hill; but my ears – and hearing aids – were ringing for long after.

I am sure, in the right hands, such gadgets are capable of great utility (although their larger “remotely piloted aircraft” cousins strike me as utterly horrific and inhumane…). These devices can also be used for good – for instance, in the production of awe-inspiring photography – if the top and tail of the RSC’s 2016 Summer Season launch video is anything to go by. But they are, improperly controlled – or used deliberately to provoke and intrude – an embuggerance too far: especially in not only disturbing, but completely eradicating, the peace of a beautiful, breezy, autumnal, rural idyll. (It did nothing to help my migraine, either….)

On my return, struggling to complete my circuit home (even on the flat), I espied a van from the Warwickshire Wheelchair Repair Service. This is provided by Invacare: whose slogan – which was just what I needed at the time – is “Yes, you can.” So, I did.

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