Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heads up

Always read the fine print:

"Warning: Phenylephrine may cause sleeplessness in some people"

Got that right.

I have a cold at the moment, which I am reasonably successfully keeping at bay with appropriate over the counter meds, most of which appear to involve two or three doses a day.

Thinking I was being reasonably sensible, and not exceeding the recommended dose, I took some before bed last night.


The induced sleeplessness resulted in several hours of somewhat altered conciousness and perception as I drifted between wakefulness and sleep, never quite managing either. There might have been some delirium, and there were definitely hallucinations.

I recall feeling like my head was separate from my body. I often woke up not knowing where I was (which admittedly isn't unusual for me), but often also not knowing who I was, which I found quite disturbing.

Underlining this was a vague and disturbing dream that persisted most of the night, the contents and subject of which I have great difficulty discerning. It had something to do with the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's. I'm not sure why or how, I just know. I am reading Robert Fisk's "The Great war for civilisation" at the moment, which probably has something to do with it, spending as it does a not inconsiderable period of time discussing the subject.

I think perhaps I may have been conscripted or something. The battlefield (I think thats what it was) was shrouded in dense mist, with isolated clearings filled with details I cannot recall, and my fellow conscripts and I were subject to imperatives and demands I could not understand.

I have spent most of the day trying to reconstruct the experience, but the best I can come up with are fleeting glimpeses and hints with no details. Confusing is a good summary.

Suffice to say, for good period of time last night I was somewhat seriously rewired, got about three hours of good sleep once the Pep wore off (hang on a minute; in abbreviating Phenylephrine it occurs to me that this could be the origin of the phrase 'pep pill'. Confirmations on postcard please), and found the whole experience quite unpleasant and disturbing.

Won't be doing that again.


This post was to have had a second part, in the form of a heads up for a flyover of Wellington city tomorrow (as I write, but today (Friday 16th) as you read this) by a restored Spitfire.

Lots of people have heard of the name 'Spitfire' (potted wiki history here), and this was an excellent chance for interested city folk to see and hear one flying in the flesh (hear especially, it is a lovely sounding aircraft, with an unmuffled 27 litre V-12 engine up front. Think of the deepest rumblies V-8 noise you can imagine. Then add some more cylinders and a bit of crackle and pop).

That was the plan anyway, until this afternoon, when the aircraft in question suffered some kind of problem (as yet not determined) and crash landed in Masterton, from where it was planned to be flying to Wellington, and where I planned to be sitting on the fence watching it.

(Image copyright: Wairarapa Times-age / NZ Herald)

There will still be a flypast over the harbour at about 1300 today, there just won't be a Spitfire in it.
These things happen, nobody was hurt, and it looks like it should be repairable, but damn and blast. I will still be on the fence tomorrow, just slightly less interested.

Its been a while since I've seen a Spitfire fly, I haven't yet tried out my digital camera on one, and was really looking forward to seeing one again this weekend.

And while I am disappointed, its probably nothing compared to how the owners and show orgainsers are feeling right now as well as the WW2 pilot who was supposed to be in the back seat for the Wellington flight. There is a huge amount of material and emotional investment in restoring, owning and operating an aircraft of this kind.

Still, there is another due to fly soon in the Manawatu, and this one is by no means written off. If this had happened in 1943 it probably would be flying again within a week.

Then again, in 1943 the aircraft would have had a realistic expectation of a life expectancy measured in hours, compared to the more or less indefinite expectation of a restored example.

The near certainty of seeing two Spitfires in the air together in NZ this summer (which last happened in 1996) has now diminished to probably sometime later on. I am naively hoping it can be repaired by April and the event-of-the-season show at Omaka, which the other one is almost certainly going to be at, but its not likely.


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