Oxford

It’s hard to describe how much fun it is to have your grown-up daughter showing you around a city. It’s also unnerving to have so many complete strangers look at the two of us and go “Uh huh, you are absolutely her father” in that tone of voice that sort of says “Well, that explains a lot.”

But it’s all good. Part of geek chic is knowing that we define our own sense of cool, even if it’s only shared by Miranda’s fellow geek girl posse and my respective nerdpack.
In any case, it was great fun – wandering the Covered Market (“Dad, you like chocolate chip cookies.” “I do?” “That wasn’t a question.”) Wandering in the old map shop (they’ve got an 1836 print of the north and south poles where, of course, Antarctica just isn’t there – nothing but ocean south of Australia. Oh, and did I mention the thing about the Google home page?). Wandering the Meadow. And time after time, running into yet another book-toting gaggle of Miranda’s fellow girl geeks – how can she know so many people after only three weeks?!?
Me? Life’s just had another twist thrown in. Way back when Miranda first got accepted to the summer writing program at Oxford, I got all crazy excited because there was an outfit at the Oxford airport that gave dual instruction in… wait for it…no, this is really good – worth waiting a little more for… a Spitfire. A Mark IX, dual control Spitfire, really truly. And since someone needed to come to Oxford to pick Miranda up at the end of her program, well, I figured I’d be willing to bite the bullet and take an extra day or two.
Of course, if you want to hear the gods laugh, tell them your plans. The Spitfire gang moved their base of operations down to Chichester in the meantime. It’s a lovely little seaside town with a beautiful grass runway. But it’s also over an hour south. So the Oxford interlude was going to be kaput, except for a bit of bookending at the beginning (today) and a sweep back at the end to pick her up.
Except that it’s been raining like crazy. Rain rain rain rainRainrainRainrain. And funny thing about grass runways: with sufficient rain, they turn to mud runways. So just now, as the clock rolled past 10 p.m., I got a call from the Spitfire folks that they’ve had to relocate to Duxford for the week. Now, Duxford is a historic airfield – it’s the operational birthplace of the Spitfire. It’s also three hours east of Chichester (yes, my American readers, there are places in England that are more than three hours apart).
Regardless, the chance to fly a Spit out of Duxford just adds to the excitement. And pressure. I remember the tagline of a forgettable movie about a garage band: “What if you finally got your big break, and you just plain sucked?” No, I know I’m at least a pretty good pilot. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as all get-out about this.

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