Thursday, 13 July 2023
How the Martin Mauler ruined my life
“It used to be a great failing to want to know how many oarsmen Ulysses had…and other questions of this kind, which if you keep to yourself is no way to enhance your knowledge, and if you publish them make you appear more a bore than a scholar. But now the Romans too have been afflicted too by the pointless enthusiasm for useless knowledge.”
– Seneca, On The Shortness of Life
The good people of Unbound have asked for the manuscript by the end of August, and all going well, I'm on target for that. I am definitely not having a thousand panic attacks and being buried alive in aeroplane books as I struggle to finish it. I am definitely not waking in the middle of the night and scrawling, 'MUST INCLUDE MARTIN MAULER' on my bedroom wall in marker pen. No, I am the very vision of calm, and no, that's not a stolen Wellesley pilot's logbook hanging out of my Speedos.
In between the actual writing, editing and image sourcing there are many other things to think about. I wondered who would be best to write the foreword. I first considered the artist Fiona Bruce (of the silver Jaguar fame) but she never replied to my emails, though fingers crossed for the next book though. After reading 'Men at War: on masculinity, sexuality & memory' I knew its author, the annoyingly brilliant, Luke Turner, was absolutely the perfect person. In return I have promised him a photograph of a Mosquito in the book as he was scandalised by the type’s absence in book 1. Apparently the foreword will be written in the holy grounds of RAF Hendon.
Several aircraft companies have been extremely generous with their assistance so far, especially Saab, Northrop Grumman, and Dassault (I think Airbus Military are about to open their vaults for me soon too). This has given me access to some remarkable documents, artworks and photographs allowing me to tell the hidden story of many brilliantly weird and/or sexy projects largely neglected by history. Though it must be said, in today’s post Woodsian aero-media culture, with magazines, vlogs and books increasingly looking to the fringe of aviation history it is getting harder and harder to find truly rare gems, but I’m extremely confident we succeeded.
The contributing writers have been dreamy, as have the fighter pilots and aeronautical engineers who have generously given their time to answer my increasingly unhinged queries.
The artists Andy Godfrey, Penny Klein and master of manga Miki Matsuda have all been knocking it out of the park with their fantastic artwork and diagrams. Hopefully Matsuda will work with my brief of a naked Lee Miller next to a Vickers Wellesley.
If you feel like helping this project, pop over to Amazon and leave a nice review of the first book. The almighty algorithm feeds on reviews like Westland Wyverns feast on sailors.
Yours inline & radial,