Normal office life is returning at last, and there are even a couple of post-Christmas events to tempt the overseasoned journalistic palate. The indefatigable Ingrid Marson nobly volunteered to represent the publication in the hell-hole of a private dining club just off the Strand, as part of an evening organised by the RAF. I'm not sure what aspect of spending time being wined and dined in agreeable surroundings by dashing chaps in uniform overcame her natural reticence, but I could swear she was looking positively enthusiastic as she headed off.
The next day, we enquired gingerly as to the precise nature of the aviator-style decadence she'd encountered. The British armed services are rightly renowned for dining in style, and the RAF tops the heap: no object alive or dead is safe when they get their groove on.
A woman disappointed! It turned out that it was the RAF's PR company sounding out what the consumer and trade press thought of our brave boys and "how the media perceives them outside the heat of conflict, both as an organisation and as a brand". Flyboys there were none: the PR company didn't want them around in case their presence prevented the hacks from speaking freely. Instead, there were some PRs and journalists from Good Housekeeping, QX (a London gay magazine, m'lord) and Loaded. What could possibly go wrong? Some snippets of conversation may give us a clue:
PR person: "How many women pilots do you think are in the RAF?"
Loaded hack: "Don't know. But can they park the planes? Haw haw haw haw..." (he was to repeat this line several times during the evening)
Ingrid: "Who's hunkier, Army, Navy or RAF boys?"
Good Housekeeping: "Well, Army. At least the RAF hasn't had a Deep Throat situation."
GH: "Oh, I mean Deepcut. Errrr... pass the bread rolls, will you?"
Shortly after this, Ingrid made her excuses and left. "I mean. No pilots!" Perhaps I'll take her to a Pprune (Professional Pilots Rumour Network) bash: seeing the species in large numbers out for a good time should put her right on a few points...
Meanwhile, I'm off for a rather different sort of flying this afternoon -- the UK side of the Huygens space probe descent. I doubt there'll be another landing on Titan in my lifetime (although that rather depends on what it finds down there), so it'd be a shame to miss it. Let's hope the probe feels the same way.