On this day, there are plenty of rockets flying around, but none of them were quite like the one I used to see on an almost daily basis.
The last house that Helen and I owned together was a semi-detached Victorian house. Our neighbour on the un-attached side was David Ford, a single man in, at a guess, his late 40s. He was very tall, very thin and very angular. If you have read either of Douglas Adams’ ‘Dirk Gently’ books, he could easily have been the professor who no-one spoke to for years.
David was friendly, in a reserved sort of way. Some days, he would stop and talk for ages. Others, you would barely get a ‘hello’ out of him.
His garden befitted the man – very simple and straightforward, nothing fussy about it at all. He remains the only man I have known cut his entire lawn with a strimmer. At the bottom of the garden was a shed, in which he spent an inordinate amount of time, hammering away at something or other. We quickly formed the idea that he was building a rocket, and dubbed him Rocket Dave.
Our view was reinforced when a large sofa in 1960s style mysteriously appeared outside his house. Rocket Dave didn’t own a car, so how it got there is a mystery. But, as every Thunderbirds fan knows, it was the sofa which sank through the floor to allow Alan Tracy to begin his journey to the space rocket Thunderbird 3.
The last time I saw Rocket Dave was, curiously, after I had moved out. Helen and I had always speculated about where he might work and I saw him one morning, cycling to work in Twickenham. Unfortunately, I lost sight of him at some traffic lights and never did find the answer to that mystery, or any of the others that surrounded Rocket Dave.