All this week Ely has been over-flown by USAF planes. This isn’t too unusual, depending on prevailing winds the planes going into Mildenhall Airbase come droning across the sky, going so slowly you expect them to fall, and causing interference on the TV. At the moment there’s a bit of tutting going on about it in the local press. I sympathise; when I came here 15 years ago it was the last thing I expected, the sound of air-brakes being applied directly over my little suburban garden and our illustrious cathedral, . Anyway I got used to it – it annoys when they come over at, but the USAF and their families have to have their candy bars!

Yes -I’m being sarcastic! 
These are huge transporter planes ( the jets from Lakenheath come out to play from time to time , but that’s something else entirely) and they are delivering supplies. So, I’m annoyed because these supplies tend to include American cars, foodstuffs and groceries , to be sold in the shops on the bases here and in Europe, at American prices . Consequently, our visitors do not contribute substantially to the local economy.  As I discovered from a conversation with a fellow commuter and ex US pilot, even those who live off-base use the base services –  shops, diners, bowling alley, cinema etc. He and his wife shopped on the base, because ” It was so much cheaper than Tesco”.

In response to the current flurry of letters in the local paper someone replied that they shouldn’t complain  because ” That’s the sound of freedom“. I presumed the letter was from an “American friend”, the language is so distinctive – it resonated with  ” I love the smell of napalm in the morning – it smells of victory”. 

Unfortunately, this has now taken a more sinister turn. Earlier this week the Radio 4 Today programme had a piece on “extraordinary rendition”  and the Government’s failure to investigate properly whether planes had landed in the UK. They did the piece from Mildenhall, talking to English plane-spotters, about how easy it might be to identify which planes came through the base.

So, are those planes carrying candy bars for our “guests” who can’t survive without Reece’s Pieces, or do they contain a suspected terrorist bound for a MIddle-Eastern or Eastern European torture chamber? 

I find the plane noise rather disturbing now –  and I don’t mean it wakes me up!