Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved. He leveled out just above the fog layer, so low the tendrils of candy-floss were lashing at our fuselages, and we went into a steady circular turn. Our Father, which art in Heaven. Every year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts a reading of The Shepherd by Alan Maitland. The Mosquito shepherds the Vampire slowly into the descent. Oh God, why won't somebody listen to me? He's had a jar or two already, I thought. The front hall was large and spacious, but evidently built in the pre-war years when metal window-frames, service issue, were in the fashion.
I caught the flash of the pilot's hand in the side window, then he was gone, up into the fog before he could see my answering wave of acknowledgment. I reminded myself, idiotically, to forgive the instrument fitter and blame the electrician. Below me lay the worst of them all, the heavy brutality of the North Sea, waiting to swallow me and my plane and bury us for endless eternity in a liquid black crypt where nothing moved nor would ever move again. As is my way, each year, I post a link for downloading this wonderful audio production read by the late Mr. Others seriously complain that the book is not worth the price because it is short.
It is a beautifully written story about a pilot who is lost in a terrible fog on Christmas Eve. Well nothing says 'It's Christmas! Bobbing around dead in the North Sea by now. I've always read and re-read the condensed version that appeared in Reader's Digest so many years ago, torn from that old magazine and treasured in my files. After that, follow instructions, and they'll bring you down on a radio-controlled descent. Typical of Forsyth, he doesn't waste time in any formalities, and just grabs you by the scruff of the neck from the very first page and doesn't leave you till you've finished the novel.
They did not mention that the chances of a pilot, bobbing about in a winter's night in the North Sea, frozen face lashed by sub-zero wind, supported by a yellow life-jacket, ice en crusting on his lips, eyebrows, ears, his position unknown by the men sipping their Christmas punches in warm rooms three hundred miles away that his chances were less than one in a hundred of living longer than one hour. His speed increased and I brought the air brakes back in. The gripping plot is marred only by a few incidences of blasphemy. This was the illustrated edition full of fantastic detailed drawings of the events in the book - they added to the story line so that combined it was a rich reading experience. Not Juliet Kilo, but Johnny Kavanagh. Beginning to run short of fuel, he decides to fly to Norwich, a city in eastern England, because he will be able to recognize the terrain.
By night it is not possible. The duty meteorologist took the call. Regards to all and a Merry Christmas. It is Christmas Eve, 1957 Flying home, on leave from Germany, he is alone in the cockpit of the Vampire Sixty six minutes of flying time, with the descent and landing destination Lakenheath No problem, all routine procedures. The quality of the writing is, if anything, better than his usual high standard. The man returned and climbed shakily back behind the wheel. Probably for call-sign Juliet Kilo.
The stars were no longer impressive in their brilliance; I thought of their hostility, sparkling away there in the timeless, lost infinities, of endless sub-zero space. I knew Norwich very well, and if I could identify the great curving bulge of the Norfolk coastline from Lowestoft, round through Yarmouth to Cromer, I could find Norwich, the only major sprawl of lights set twenty miles inland from all points on the coast. I gave it five stars for the enjoyment it gave me years ago. By this time I presumed old Joe was the mess steward. The problem around which the story revolves, was a real one, that I always feared myself, when flying the aircraft on instruments. There, coming in contact with the ice-cold earth, the trillions of tiny moisture particles in the sea air had vapourized, forming the kind of fog that can blot out five counties in a matter of thirty minutes.
We've been known to give it to people who have lost loved ones since there is a level of comfort and solace in the book that is hard to describe. First the compass goes haywire, then the radio dies. He nodded towards the dim share of the Vampire. In the midst of warmth and security, a pilot's world unravels. This novelette, fairly well known and often read as a Christmas story, is quite different from any of the rest of Forsyth's novels. Merriam controller had asked us to circle twice while he switched on his runway lights ten miles ahead, and this old fool had switched on his lights as well. In other words, I knew how fast I was going and how high I was.
I elected to take my lonely evening meal in my room, and while Joe went to fetch it I had a quick bath, for the water was by now reasonably hot. I pulled back on the throttle, hearing the engine die to a low whistle, and the shepherd was back beside me. The rescue aircraft was called the Shepherd. This is one great story! He was wearing his uniform trousers, but with a chunky blue pullover for a jacket. To slow up even more I put out the air brakes. Normally I hardly touched spirits, but it was warming, so I thanked him and he went off to supervise the steward.
All so damn drunk you can't do your jobs properly. It's here, that his Vampire airplane blows a fuse and he finds himself flying without a radio or lights toward Britain. You stupid bastards, why don't you look at your radar screens? After forty-four minutes flying time, change to Channel F and call Lakenheath Control to give you a steers. I halted before an old photograph in a frame, standing alone on the mantel shelf above the crackling fire. A picture from the nav's seat: In mid-December, the Mosquito visited Tauranga for the first time unfortunately a week after I left. Marks was putting his head through the various doors leading off the hall, shouting for someone called Joe.