Following on from the previous episodes about the cellar discovery, I should like to resume with a brief story in a light hearted vein of my archaeological work.
Continuing excavations in the gardens during a warm, sunny and settled early July 2005, the cellar being discovered, then the stone staircase down to it unearthed. So by any measure there was a big hole in the lawn! Amongst the trials and tribulations of burrowing down into the loose demolition material was the endless persistence of the common house fly.
Pausing from my digging to swipe at one or two of the little blighters, I turned and looked up towards the southern sky as a distant throbbing and drumming sound of aero engines before coming into vision, revealed a massive ‘Chinook’ twin engined helicopter which hove into view at no more than a few hundred feet. It’s ear shattering sound seemed to roll across the garden in a deafening wave before it was suddenly gone away behind the trees as the beast headed north.
I had become accustomed to these intrusions into the quiet idyl that is Parlington and realised that the hall was directly beneath the flight path of military aircraft heading north-south. That early summer was a period of considerable activity with helicopters flying daily back and forth. Many of them ‘Chinooks’ and often in pairs, flying abreast one ahead of the other, making a huge clattering din that made your teeth rattle.
My digging proceeded, with my dog ‘Meg’ entertaining with her party trick of snapping at the persistent flies, and the hole became larger as a stone paved floor at the head of the staircase became the focus of my attention. Breaking for refreshment I was suddenly aware of a vehicle heading down the driveway towards the hall, it was the local police! No kidding, they exited the vehicle and approached. ‘Just passing’, they said! ‘Oh’ said I, wondering how they imagined that I would believe them to be just passing down a cut-de-sac. It was obvious they were interested in my excavations. Briefly coming to the hole peering down and expressing surprise at such a find! Then back into the car and off, never to be seen or heard of again!
later I realised that the traffic passing overhead, albeit military, was likely taking passengers to the G8 conference held on July 6–8, at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland and hosted by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Did the police visit because viewed from an aircraft they imagined I was building some kind missile launcher to shoot down the big wigs flying overhead. What other explanation can there be for a random visit by two policemen, keen to see my excavations, how could they have known unless someone passing above had alerted them?