Now here’s a funny thing. All those years of reading Biggles books, building Airfix models, and general gawping at the aerial clutter that is aviation never really prepared me for how easy it is to actually get the chance to learn to fly. The cherubim and the seraphim were duly startled when, in July 2004, I joined their serried ranks and got my wings, thanks to the Borders Gliding Club and their superb instructors (and with no little tolerance on the part of Juliet Alpha Delta, who was my bitch, as I was hers). So, for a short time, I became a pilot; not, alas, a very good one, but a pilot nonetheless, and all the academic qualifications in the world were as nothing in comparison with that little cloth badge with a big confident G in the middle which enabled me to say… ‘now I am a pilot’.

My chief accomplishment in flying was that the number of my landings equalled that of my takeoffs; my main aim in life was to maintain that harmonious balance. If, in the process, I was able to stay up longer than the tug which got me there, then that was indeed a bonus.