Andy Moss and James Haigh arrived early in Bournemouth to prepare the sand on Thursday. I was driving towards Bristol for a party to celebrate a sand drawing and was getting regular updates from the boys on the phone. “It’s a washout, it’s a washout!” I couldn’t really grasp what James was saying and had to go to the services to call them.
“Jamie, it is a total washout, it’s just been torrential rain, I’ve never seen anything like it. The winter gardens has just turned into a lake that comes up to the waist, cars are floating around round abouts and the sand is just washing away!”
“So is there no sand for the sculpture?”
“Well we put a tarp over it and most of it is still there. Andy even called in the RAF to give him some sand bags!” This was no jest as we were making a sand castle at the Bournemouth Air Show to celebrate 20 years of MARS Ice Cream. I really can’t believe it was 20 years since they came out, I remember looking at them in the freezer when I was a boy. So, so desirable and so beyond the realms of my non-existent pocket money. It was years before I could afford one, but how delicious it was.
I eventually arrived in Bournemouth to find the boys tucked in bed in the hotel. They however were grim and full of frowns. With unrelenting sarcasm Andy piped under his great moustache “No, this is a great hotel Jamie, you would get a lot of money for selling the antique TV.” It was so old and large in fact, that I later used it as my desk. “……And the beds are damp, last night I woke up shivering!” The peace de resistance however was that the ensuit to the toilet was separated by a partition, and the partition was made of frosted glass. This made for some very intimate bonding after breakfast.
We cracked on for two days and had a great time making our sand castle, sometimes a little embarrassed as when the red arrows were flying by some people were taking photographs of us rather than them. “It’s the Red Arrows, turn the other way!” They were as all the other times I’ve seen them spectacular, swooping from all directions to make their manoeuvres with all the grace and power of the Jets that they fly; splashing paint in the sky that is their canvas. After they departed Andy turned to me and described that watching them had left a lump in his throat, perhaps because he admired so much their dedication to becoming what they are. “I thought being a sand sculptor was the best job in the world, but now I think it is the Red Arrows.” Unknown to us at the time, moments after they departed back to the airport one of the jets ‘Red 4’ plummeted to the ground and crashed not far from where we actually were. Before impact, it is thought that Lt John Egging managed to steer his jet away from a shopping centre and towards a field. However, he ejected too late and died doing something that he loved. Although tragic there is something poignant in a man following the path of his dreams. He may have been young when he died but he was truly living his life. Let him be an inspiration to us all.