BOB User Stories: Look Dad a Spitfire


It is said that the place to be in the fall is New England, North America. This particular late autumn day in England was as beautiful as any there. The young man and woman ambled through the woods as the low weak sun started to set. A small boy ran excitedly backwards and forwards leaping into muddy puddles and chasing leaves. Another in a push chair wiggled excitedly as the same leaves scattered and danced in the chilling blustery wind. The orange and red of the tunnel of trees around them contrasted with the weak pale blue above.

They moved up to a gate at the edge of the woods and paused. The boy stopped his skipping and stared. A horse, with blue coated rider, was trotting behind them to the gate. Without saying a word the little boy stared up at the animal. The rider tipped his hat as the man held the gate open, and once through he clicked twice and the horse leapt forwards to a canter. In an instant it was far off, racing on the open hill beyond. As the family group followed through the gate, the ground fell away to reveal a Southern view of twenty miles. Reigate hill in Surrey, on the Northern Downs and some five hundred feet high, had been a favourite panorama for generations. It was such a clear day that far, far to the south the ridges of the Southern Downs above Brighton could be discerned.

The boy ran to the small roofed memorial, placed on the crest of the hill in honour of the losses from the town below in the Great War. It afforded a 180 degree view as far as the eye could see. Today the wind whipped through it and impatiently the little boy ran off and down into a large dip in the ground. The man followed and saw the boy reach the bottom, a full fifteen feet below. It was a bomb crater and some 80 feet in span. The scale of the thing was surprising.

The boy started to run in concentric circles at its base, whooping with delight. And then he stopped. With the shift of focus available only to children, he was intent on the sky above. All else was gone for him. He had heard the plane. It was unmistakable. The man stopped. Suddenly all wind noise had ceased. It was eerily still. He looked at the crater; at the small shape at its base, so full of promise. He scanned the sky. He saw nothing. But the boy had. He pointed. And then broke into an optimistic smile “Look daddy! It’s a Hurricane! Look daddy! It’s a Spitfire!”

His father’s frown eased and then he too smiled as he looked to where he was pointing. It was no Hurricane. Nor Spitfire. It was a modern Cessna, flying at 500 feet, with day trippers sightseeing in the glorious autumn afternoon. The plane passed over and faded away and the man called, “Come on Ben, let’s go home now. Time for dinner”
Such is the luxury of a Sunday afternoon in the early twenty first century. As we left the bomb crater and passed the war memorial I said a silent prayer of thanks. History is not in the past. It is a part of our daily lives.