I have passed this onto my elder son. Ten fold.
I have never done the geek thing about anything. When I was a guitarist, it was Gibson for the sound and Marshall for the amplification. I didn’t really care about the relative pros and cons of the 1967 Sunburst Les Paul vs the 1968 Gold Top…
I am not really a true geek-level enthusiast about anything. That’s why when my elder son asks me if I’d like an Aston Martin I say “yeah” and when he asks me which one I don’t have an answer.
So when I get trapped in a conversation with a real enthusiast about most things they quickly see me as a complete lightweight. A hobbyist.
I was at Fairford on Saturday for the Air Tattoo where there are a fair few enthusiasts.
There was a Spitfire there. Flying.
I am in love with the image of the Spitfire.
It’s the elliptical wings. Elegant beauty. This is what makes the Spitfire so fabulous.
But I have noticed from time to time that some Spitfires do not in fact have this elliptical wing. They have the clipped wing, like this:
The elliptical winged ones are superior in every way.
With one slight problem.
They simply just weren’t.
The elliptical winged Spitfires were the early ones and they were, in fact, a bit rubbish. The clipped wingtips were better.
The beauty of the early Spitfires did not begat performance. In fact, the opposite.
I know this because my son, who is an enthusiast like I’m not, and knows his Spitfire Mark I from his Mark II etc etc., told me.
It turns out, I am informed, that most Spitfires had clipped wingtips. Just not the ones in the Commando books. Or the movies.
If I had been the chief designer of the Spitfire I would have found it hard to clip the wingtips. If I was a bombastic, stubborn kinda guy, I might have insisted they remain unclipped.
Just because I liked them the way they were. Not because they were good. I may have remained stuck in the delusion that it was the beauty that yielded the performance, when it didn’t. I may have been a hindrance to the war effort. Like alcohol. And pacifists. And Germans.
I was looking upon the Spitfire as a work of art. But it is a tool, not a sculpture.
So as I go about my day today I shall make a supreme effort to be aware of the choices I make and I shall be asking myself if I’m doing what I do because I like doing these things or because they are the most effective things I could be doing.