As I listen to the jets flying over my house in West London away from the centre where they have been trooping the colour I am reminded of an episode in 2002. We joined the huge crowds in the Mall who were celebrating the Queen's Golden Jubilee. It was a very happy and jolly occasion with participants waving flags of all countries and regions. There was even one from the Isle of Man.
As the military planes flew past (one from every year of the Queen's reign) a little boy behind me repeatedly demanded to be told when the Spitfires were coming. They were not, of course, being from an earlier period. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by his insistence, the likelihood being that his grandparents had not been born when the Spitfires flew.
In the end I decided that he was thinking along the same lines as children do when they imitate choo-choo trains and draw steam engines if asked to explain what a train is like. The steam train and the Spitfire are clearly the Platonic ideal form of a train and an aeroplane. Children do not need to have this explained to them. They just know.
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