This morning I was asked to say a few words at the launch of the Joshua Castle Drone Club. This is (more or less) what I said.

Good morning.

Thank you for inviting me to be here at the launch of The Joshua Castle Drone Club. I know Josh would be thrilled to lend his name to such an endeavour that combines adventure and technology and learning and maybe just a little competition.

My surviving son Christopher, has joined the tech crew and threatened to switch off the microphones if I am too embarrassing. So instead of telling you the time he got stung by a wasp on his chest and ended up sporting a “D cup”, I will instead tell you a story about Josh:

It’s the 25 December 2013 and it’s early. Maybe half past six or seven. The older cousins and Grandpa have stumbled back to bed, muttering darkly about opening the gifts at a sensible hour next year. Josh looks at me and grins. He knows that there will NEVER be a year when he sleeps in on Christmas day. As Christmases in our household go – it’s going well. No-one has fought (yet), the butterknife that Chris bent trying to manhandle the gifts from their protective wrapping was from the camping set not Granny’s “wedding present set” that she has nursed through nearly fifty years of marriage. Mum has remembered to buy several tons of batteries in several different configurations to ensure that all battery operated gifts can actually be used on Christmas day itself. No one has cried. We have not yet taken our annual trip to the casualty ward.

And even though its early – its HOT. I flap at my PJ’s and wonder whether to change into my swimming costume. I probably will – once I’ve watched Josh fly the tiny drone that I (I mean Santa) gave him. I open the sliding doors to that lead out to the patio and  invite a non-existent breeze in. Granny’s two black labs, who have been patiently waiting for gift giving to be over and for someone to feed them rush in and begin scrabbling through the wrapping  looking for forgotten sticks of biltong or forbidden chocolate. They will be fed – but first we want to see Josh fly the drone.

The drone – it’s tiny and can fit into the palm of his hand – is charged and ready to go. Josh places it on the coffee table and grasps the controls in both hands. Slowly, slowly the drone comes to life. First skidding across the table and then gently rising into the air. It drifts up, over the noses of the curious labs and towards the door.

“Careful,” I say.

“You’re going too high!” Chris lurches towards the conrols, believing himself (with no actual experience) to be the better pilot. Josh stands up and shoves his brother away with his elbows.

“Leave it!”

The drone narrowly misses the the top of the door frame and lurches into the garden, gathering speed.

Out across the patio, over Granny’s potted collection of succulents.

Over the narrow strip of grass and over the pool.

“You’re going too fast. You’ll get tangled in the trees!” Chris yells. He’s right. The garden is bordered by a 12 foot variegated shrub. I don’t know what its called but I do know it’s filled with thorns. No one will rescue the drone from there.

Josh abruptly takes his fingers off the controls. The drone seems to hang in the air for a moment before it beings to fall, down, down, down ….into the swimming pool below.

For a moment we sit in stunned silence before Chris fishes the drone out of the water and places it on the paving. The two dogs check it – hoping at has become breakfast. They discover what we already know. The drone is dead.

Total drone life span? 13 seconds.

The moral of the story is DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR BROTHER…no that’s not right. I mean it is right but it’s not the moral of this story.

The moral of the story is this: lives (even long lives) are short and you have to fill them with the things that fill you with wonder – even the things that you aren’t terribly good at yet and even if your mother will probably shout at you for trying.

A drone club strikes me as a way to experience the world a little differently – to experience some wonder and to go and learn something which you might be terrible at, or you might be wonderful at or you might learn something interesting or you might be a total nerd and end up owning the world. And any of these eventualities would be outcomes that Josh would be thrilled to put his name to.

I am sure today you are pleased that Josh is lending his name and not his skill to the club. I am pleased that you would name it after our son.

Thank you.


Drone moaning