I’m very fortunate, perhaps uniquely so, in that my office window overlooks the White Horse.

Every day I ply my trade tapping away on my keyboard travelling to the other side of the world on the information superhighway and to the even further reaches of my imagination. Whenever I come home the horse is still there. In summer or winter, rain or shine, excepting thick sea mist, I keep a careful eye on its fortunes.

Today, around lunchtime, the Sea King helicopter arrived. I’d been expecting it sometime this week so immediately it was walking boots on, the dogs getting very excited and within minutes we were stomping through the stubble of the recently harvested oilseed rape, the clatter of the huge machine echoing across the valley.

It was a spectacular sight and I think the pilot was enjoying himself too, swooping back and forth between the top of the hill and dropping bags of scalpings by the big manure dump in the centre of the valley. Up on top, fearless ground crew would attach each bag struggling against the downdraft and swirling dust. Silhouetted against the sky they reminded me of that marvellous image of US marines raising the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima.

Time after time the helicopter ferried more and more bags down. It was a full aerobatic display from where I stood with dramatic banking, side-slipping and precision hovering. The dogs and I moved closer to the base of the hill until I saw a lone figure signalling at me. As we approached each other I realised he was an army cadet. In a previous life I used to pretend to be a half-colonel so I was tempted to call him to attention, followed by twenty push-ups and a couple of circuits of the field. Regrettably though, he was there to eject me from the danger zone which he did with great charm and civility. I didn’t realise there were well-spoken, polite young men in Britain any more!

Our espionage mission completed, the dogs and I executed an orderly retreat, photo-reconnaissance in the can. What a wonderful job by all concerned, most particularly the poor bl**dy infantry that shovelled every last one of those scalpings off the hill. Those glamourous flyboys always get the easy job!

Peter Reynolds

Click thumbnails for larger image