Over the years some past events return to my memory and I have often
wondered what happened after the person, thing or episode had left my
immediate consciousness. Thankfully, occasionally in later years
something may unexpectedly occur to inform me of what happened later.
There follows something that I was involved with in the 1970s.
To set the scene I should say that I was employed in the Experimental Department’s Instrumentation Section at Hawker’s Richmond Road factory. Our work involved what was later called Flight Test Instrumentation. We had to be a very practical lot and as a result were often called upon to do odd jobs that could not be done by any other department. We often made aircraft models for presentation or display purposes, with an engraved descriptive plaque attached to the stand. I remember engraving one such plaque for a Hunter model that was to be presented to the Ugandan President, General Idi Amin, who at that time, well before he became a ‘persona (very) non grata’, must have been a possible customer. I often wonder what happened to that model.
However, fast-forward about forty years to when I was looking at
Andrew Dow’s book ‘Pegasus - the Heart of the Harrier’. Having turned
to the index to what might catch my eye I spotted the entry ‘Amin, Idi’
with reference to footnote 28 in chapter 11. The relevant paragraph on
page 307 refers to some of the countries which were interested in
purchasing the Harrier for their forces but it was the footnote that
delighted me most, so here it is: “28. Many of those expressions of
interest were merely that: fact finding. Some years later Time magazine
reported that Idi Amin of Uganda had asked the British Ambassador if he
could buy some Harriers so that he could “bash” one of his neighbours.
The report said that His Excellency changed the subject of conversation
by offering him another cup of tea.” There’s a lesson in diplomacy!
On the Internet I have come across hundreds of items about Idi Amin.
One referred to his collection of his dead enemies’ heads which he kept
in a freezer and that he often spoke to. He died in 2003.