May 16, 2005

My Father Knew Tom Driberg

I've been going to the same AME (Airman's Medical Examiner) for my medicals now for years, a locally well-known guy who's mostly well-known for his, erm, eccentricity (in the best British sense). He's the sort of guy whose father was friends with Tom Driberg (the title of a recent bio: "The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw") -- and who'd actually know how much that name might mean to a Briton older than (say) 30. Although he -- the AME -- is a fair bit older than me, we share enough background (Britain and Scotland, mostly) to talk at length about UnAmerica, especially Scotland and the area around Tighnabruaich, one of the places I'm from. He's also unrepentantly anti- almost anything to do with Imperial America and its attendant bureaucracy, and isn't afraid to say it out loud. And he has this ... thing ... about bureaucracies -- lots of odd little notes and hand-written annotations on the various forms, etc., spread around the walls of his waiting room. The medicals are always an amusing and entertaining experience for me. No names here, but most people in the Oakland aviation community probably have at least some idea who I'm talking about....

Anyway, as always, he's late, and I share the corridor (and, later, the tiny waiting room) with a younger guy who works charters out of Hayward. We gossip about the various mutual freight dog aquaintances and associated companies and aircraft, especially the windowless AmFlight Metroliner on the Oakland ramp nicknamed the "death tube". That plane's always looked sinister to me, but he hasn't actually flown it (he hasn't worked for AmeriFlight for years).

Oh, and the exam? Well, the FAA has certified that, once again, I'm alive. Whew.

(Tom Driberg, as described with characteristic understatement in the blurb for Francis Wheen's biography: "wit, parliamentarian, serial cottager, alleged communist spy and friend to the Kray brothers. There are few people for whom marriage was so ill-suited yet well attended: at Tom Driberg's were cabinet ministers and mobsters, Betjeman and Waugh, but it was Osbert Lancaster who commemorated the sheeer extraordinairness of the occasion, and with it celebrated the social life of Driberg, and an era of Englishness now passed into history when the Brideshead generation sang the Red Flag." (from Amazon).

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