Circling, Circling

It’s so crisp and clear here, you can see for miles. Thousands of feet above the wind has shifted slightly and the circling area for Heathrow Airport has moved to a racetrack around our house played out at 10,000 feet. There are so many planes in the sky; ordinarily you wouldn’t see them at all but today.

I can see four, five, eight jumbo jets. Thousands of people held up by an invisible hand.

The planes operate at different altitudes and tricks of perspective abound. There are three planes who look like they’re almost touching. A giant plane, a normal one and slightly above and behind a tiny little hobbit plane. All that tells these planes apart is a smudge of unidentifiable colour at the tail.

I’ve been reading a book on the Battle Of Britain written by one of my old professors, Richard Overy. Sixty three years ago these cartwheeling planes would have been dogfighting or bombing, smudged black smoke streaming across the sky. A week ago I drove past the Polish War Memorial that commemorates those pilots whose hate and honour drove them here and back into the air.

Overy is particularly strong on the economics of industrial production. A gross simplification and misunderstanding of my interpretation of the subtext of some of his work would be that Germany was effectively defeated by the artisanal complexity of its weaponry and her inability to simply apply or control enough resources to the problem of winning the war as anything else. Which of course brings us neatly back to the invisible hand that keeps those 747s in the sky. Circling. Circling.