it has been unseasonably cold, hard to believe it is the Easter holidays.
In the clear coldness of the spring evening, the red lights marking the transmitting station on the Mendips were sharply visible. At 1,001 above sea level, the mast stands 924 feet high.
The mast was constructed in 1967, before the boy’s seventh birthday, its building being a source of wonder to someone who could spend hours staring out into the darkness.
The line of red lights warning approaching aircraft of an obstacle ahead sometimes had about them a magical quality, from being mere illumination of the ascending girders they could become anything a fanciful mind might imagine.
Glastonbury Tor lay in the middle ground; it was said to have mystical qualities, but was dull and unimpressive compared to the 20th Century technology beyond. Anyone believing in ley lines and other such stories circulating in the 1960s might have thought red lights in the sky were the harbinger of some epoch changing events, to a small boy they were a nightly reminder of the vastness of the world around – if a mast of such a height was necessary, how many thousands and thousands of houses were out there, how many people were there who could see those lights?
The small boy staring out at the mast through the Somerset night air would sometimes try to imagine the people in their homes. What were the people in those tens of thousands houses like? What would they have watched on their televisions? What would the people sitting in their homes have talked about? What was it like to live their lives as they did?
Raised on the tales of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin and stories of magic and of dragons, it did not seem beyond the realms of imagination to be able to fly out across the moors through the night sky and meet those whose lives were so very different. Story books offered all sorts of possible incantations, unfortunately none of them were of any effect in allowing nocturnal travel.
It is more than fifty years since those childhood imaginings. In the cold air, the lights seemed especially sharp, cutting into a wintry sky. The number of houses to which the mast broadcasts has increased, the number of potential families one might imagine has multiplied. What tales might be told by someone who could travel wizard-like through the chill of an April night?