If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.



Anyway, yes Holiday time in the very wonderful Isle of Wight. If you've got odd ASD children, you probably should be booking about now for one of next years Freedom Family week at East Dene. Why? a) Ventnor is a smashing little seaside resort. If you like walks, there are lovely walks there and back, or to Shanklin. b) The IoW railway will engage any train fiend, especially if you go all the way to the end of the pier, and it connects with steam trains if that's your bag. c) If you prefer to do nothing, the outdoor pool is heated, attended and open for hours a day. Most ASD kiddywinks and their siblings will play happily and tiringly in the pool for hours, and if they don't want that, there are activities most days. d) The air and views are conducive to a feeling of irrepressible well-being. e) It's catered. If you've been driven to self catering just to avoid the odd looks, it's amazingly wonderful not to have to hit the supermarket, look for pepper or whatever.

But none of that matters, because the real colossal advantage is is that however weird, badly behaved or just plain crazy your kiddies are, other children are crazier. Howls like a gibbon in the swimming pool? No problem. Unreliable judgement on wearing trousers? Don't we all. Turds on the staircarpet? Got to do it somewhere. True for all the other guests, true for staff. Amazingly relaxing, even if you're sleeping in a bunk and eating canteen food.

As a bonus you get to meet all the other odd children. Other people's kiddies are always more fun (because you get to hand them back) but this year I had the odd sensation that I was meeting children who were amazing. That's not a conventional wishy-washy feelgood disabled rights amazing, but absolutely fuck-off precocity and ability. Some were diagnosed, and some were slightly dodgy "we think he's all right" siblings. Amazing. I wish I could publish a list of names to watch out for because some of those kiddies are going far.......


Physical Security

I would have said there was nowhere in the UK, certainly in England, where you could run rocket engines for an orbital lifter without it being obvious to everyone around. It's all too small, and rockets are so very, very obvious.

Sucks to me then, because from the late 50's up until 1972, Saunders-Roe in Cowes managed strict secrecy while test firing assembled Black Knight and Black Arrow rockets right next to a tourist attraction on the Isle of Wight! Tucked away in a fold of Tennyson Down above the Needles Battery was a complete static test rig, with exhaust and cooling steam directed out to sea high above the cliffs. Less than a mile from the archetypical 50's tourist resort of Alum Bay, they kept their secret with nothing more than a wire fence, MoD police and a slightly deceptive line of sight.

Actually, there's one other thing you can only appreciate if you visit the site. The fantastic wind may not be louder than a rocket engine, but it would disperse it utterly.

This is all very fine, and the exhibition in the chalk bunkers of the new battery is well worth a look. But you have to be a real nerd to know that in Moonraker -- published in 1955 -- Ian Fleming had Hugo Drax, his nazi revanchiste, building and launching the rockets to destroy London from silos in the chalk cliffs between Dover and Folkstone. Fleming's intelligence contacts were the best: he must have known. Did the S-R security officer have kittens? Were there hard words exchanged? Was James Bond, of all people, responsible for a breach in national security?