Although aviation has never been a passion of mine, I have always wanted to see a Lancaster bomber. And not just because of the history and the role it played in WWll, but because I share the name with this iconic aircraft.
Coincidentally my stepson DeeQ wants to be a pilot, so a trip to the Imperial War Museum was in order. We signed up for a lecture about the Lancaster and I thought I’d be bored within seconds. But it turned out to be the most interesting half an hour I’ve ever spent in a museum.
The war demanded reliable and capable aircraft. The designers came up with Avro Manchester which was a medium plane with a twin engine, it was underpowered and prone to breakdown. Only 200 Manchesters were built and were quickly withdrawn from service in 1942.
Having learnt from the mistakes of Avro Manchester, the designers went back to their drawing boards. What they came up with was the plane that made history – the Lancaster. It had four engines and could carry more bombs on board. Originally designed as a night bomber, the Lancaster excelled in many other roles, including daylight precision bombing. In fact, it was one of the few war planes that was ‘right’ from the start.
Later that week I was tiding up my flat and putting my belongings into boxes, ready for the move. I dived under my bed to retrieve more shoe boxes when I saw it, squashed between a box of board games and pair of black strappy wedges, the disk with my wedding photos.
It was the first time I saw it since the divorce. Just like the event it represented, it was covered in dust – like an ancient relic. Unsure what to do I simply froze there, afraid to even touch it. For a split second I even considered binning it. But quickly decided against it – you don’t bin history books, they only are the chronicles of what happened.
I knew I didn’t have a choice but to face my past so I inserted the disk into my laptop. The event, that was supposed to be the happiest in my life, moved in front of me in a steady slide show.
It made me smile. There were photos of my family and friends and it made me miss them; the photos of the dress and I remembered how much I loved designing it, agonising over the flower detail. The snapshots of a happy bride – so young and so full of hopes, I could hardly remember her.
As my gaze drifted to my ex I felt nothing. No hate, no love, no regret – no emotions whatsoever. He was simply a handsome guy I used to know. My brain has simply archived him and our five years of marriage.
Surprised by my own reaction I returned to packing. And I was putting my belongings into boxes I couldn’t help but wonder, how can five years simply vanish from a memory? How can a person I loved so much could be so easily forgotten? How can he prompt no emotion?
I went to the kitchen on autopilot and turned on my coffee machine. As I was reaching for a coffee pod I saw a fridge magnet I got from the Imperial War Museum to remind me of the trip. It was one of a Lancaster bomber.
And it hit me – yes, I was married to a Lancaster but he wasn’t ‘right’ for me. In fact, he was my Manchester. He existed in history (no denying that) but he never made any impact. And just like the Manchester was withdrawn from the service, our marriage was dissolved.
There are many Manchesters that pass through our lives. They are there for a reason, for a certain amount of time, but as years go by we hardly remember them.