In summers past, when the sun has shone over the cricket ground at Arundel, the buzz of insects has been disturbed on occasion by the mightier sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the power behind the Spitfire fighter.
Sure enough, the sound of the engine would be followed shortly by the sight of that most elegant of planes. I do not know where the plane flies from, but Goodwood is not far away and that seems as good a bet as any.
In this shortened cricket season, the Spitfire has not been seen, until today anyway. It is early autumn, the second week of September, but the sun shines brightly on south east England. On a warm day at Arundel, the bees were working with added urgency and the wasps were angrier than usual.
Shortly after mid-day the thunder of a Merlin engine was heard and sure enough, the Spitfire appeared over the trees and made a long loop around the ground. The players paused, the spectators looked up and the early patrons of the pavilion bar decanted themselves outside.
A mackerel sky
I tried to take a photograph, but by the time I had found the iPhone, unlocked it and managed to open the camera, the plane was a distant speck in a mackerel sky.
I don’t know if the Spitfire is the finest plane ever made, or the Merlin the greatest aero engine, but one thing is certain; eighty years after their finest hour, still their sight and sound make us stand and stare.