The Diaries Of Manuel Pipez
Chapter Four: The Flying Field
Up very betimes to travel to Stubbins Town to meet with my Lord. I am vexed as I know not what his interest there is. Maybe there is an additional position there which will earn a little more. My boy's repair to my boot keeps the water out but makes my foot hurt as though there is a stone in there. There is not as I have shaken the boot heartily. I limp along as quick as I can in the dark.
My Lord arrived shortly after the rain stopped.
He waved his arms expansively, "The future, Pipez."
I asked if Welborne-in-the-Marsh wasn't the future and my Lord responded with a long discourse on multiple futures and the responsibility of directing them to successful complimentary conclusions. He spoke animatedly as we walked.
I squelched inaminately.
He stopped in the middle if a large field in the centre of the naval station.
The greenest and flattest field I have ever seen.
No plough had ever seen this sward for certain.
My Lord ran his hand over the close-cropped grass.
"Excellent!" he said. "This is to be a flying field."
"Like a flying carpet?" I asked.
"No, Pipez, the field won't move; people will fly from the field. Through the air in machines, flying machines."
He continued, "I shall fly machines through the air, high like a bird. I shall be able to fly anywhere."
I found my tongue at last. "But my Lord, why should you want to fly high in the air like a bird?"
"Ah, Pipez, you never see the benefits of progress, do you. Flying promises freedom, peace and quiet; and best of all when I am up there I shall be able to shit on my critics from a great height, the mere thought of it gives me much pleasure."
The thought of it may give my Lord pleasure but I fear even he, as full of it as he is, would not be able to hit all his critics; for they are legion.
Another early start at the flying field with my Lord. My Lord is troubled. The roads to the east of the flying field will be soon completed. But the roads from the west are deep with clay and mud and often congested. My Lord would like the flying field men to reach easily the flying field from both east and west.
"Flying men from Portsmouth and Southampton will be drawn here, but what can we do about the western roads?" he muttered.
"Why not improve the road, like Nougat Lane?" I suggested.
"The council wouldn't pay for that Pipez. Nougat Lane is different. There we have moved the congestion to Gosport, leaving the road to the flying field clear. The western road has nowhere to divert the congestion to. But think, if the road was improved it would still go through Stubbins Town and the fliers couldn't face that. The road winds, the people uncouth, they still persist in the Gosport practice of throwing the slops from upper storeys onto the unwary. Fliers wouldn't come again."
"Why not a new road, one that goes around Stubbins Town?"
"No room, Pipez, there is no room"
Through the fields my Lord. No houses to remove nor people to rehouse. It could go right round Stubbins Town, by-passing it."
"An excellent thought, Pipez. Look here is my coach, I will give you a ride home while I think about the idea"
It was a pleasant ride to my Lord's house and I know the walk from there to my home quite well. It is a bit further than the walk from the flying field to my home, and there is certainly something in my boot. But the pain is not enough to vex me after my Lord's praise of my idea.
A jolly evening with my wife, singing and prayers. And so to bed.
To the flying field to meet my Lord. He is there before me but is in a mellow temper. It seems today will be our last day at this place as my Lord has to journey to London.
I follow my Lord to a large coffee house, set within were many tables and chairs. It is the largest coffee house I have ever seen.
My Lord explained that the flying field men will need food and drink after their flying and he has persuaded the council to provide this coffee house. There was no doubt he was pleased, and said he looked forward to spending many enjoyable hours in there. I said nothing, but I fear the cost of this coffee house would have bought meals for many poor families in the town.
No food for us in the coffee house today. I doubt I shall set foot in there again for many days.
I followed my Lord to a remote outhouse. The windows were barred and the door carried warning signs. My Lord entered and bade me enter. The room was dark but the morning sun streaming through the par-open door illuminated a large black snake emerging from the floor and writhing across the table. I started
"Stand still Pipez. This is the means by which I shall revive the town. This pipe", I relaxed, not a snake, "this pipe is comes from France. No not made in France. It is connected to France. The French will pump the elixir of life through it from their end and it will appear here. What do you say Pipez? Say nothing for at the moment it is still a secret. I shall announce it when I need to impress the council. You will clean the building and ensure the secret is safe."
"Thank you my Lord", I said, "What form is this elixir my Lord?"
"Liquid form Pipez, a very valuable liquid, a drink nonpareil direct from France with no duty." His eyes glazed and he paused briefly. "When the flow starts it will be bottled here and you will audit the bottles to be sure none is lost. I will have the patent drawn up for you. Now go until you are called."
"Thank you my Lord." I left and made my way to my office. I sat a while and drank a glass of beer. A big day for me, and a secret to keep. I picked up the lute. As I walked home from the office I played a little tune on the lute and sang a ditty, I may have danced a jig too. A very good day and more money for the Pipez purse.
It was a jolly evening with my wife, even Mr Cox, the shipwright, was welcome. We sang and danced, as my boy played the lute, late into the night until the neighbours complained. Mr Cox left, we gave our prayers.
And so to bed.
Up late as my Lord is away for seven days. To the Red Lyon as I have a secret to keep.