I was in the park buying an ice cream when he approached me.
"Excuse me, my good man, might I interest you in an aeronautical display?"
He was in his seventies at least, a little stick of a man, dressed in an over-sized world war two RAF uniform, complete with leather skullcap and goggles. A white silk scarf, wrapped around his neck, completed the ensemble.
I didn't say anything at first, craning to look behind him. He could see what was troubling me.
"They won't let me have a plane any more. Not since the incident with the Germans."
"You were in the war?" I asked.
"No..." he said. "What do you say? A ten minute aeronautical display. Only five pounds!"
I looked through the change I'd received after buying my ice cream. "I'll give you a quid."
"I used to get a thousand pounds a performance you know," he said.
"You used to have a plane," I retorted.
"Very well," he said in a dejected tone. "But you get five minutes and no loop the loop."
He began by running a hundred yards back and forth in front of me, humming engine noises, with his hands on an imaginary joystick, the left occasionally working the throttle. Then he was twisting off to the right in a lazy turn that gradually became a graceful figure of eight.
And so it went on, with him at one point rolling on his side along the ground, before leaping back to his feet, looking very spry for a man of his age, and running two hundred yards directly away from me, turning and running back at me as fast as he could manage. Before he barreled into me he stopped, hunkered down, wrapping his arms around his legs before throwing himself backwards, ankles over head. Once again he leaped back to his feet, then sauntered casually back over to me.
He pulled his monocle out, winked at me, then replaced it. "I threw in that last loop for free."
I fished the one pound coin out of my pocket and placed it onto his outstretched palm. He wrapped his fingers about it, placed his fist to his forehead in a salute, then stashed the coin in his puffy trousers.
"Well, young man, what did you think?"
I wasn't sure what I thought, but what I said was, "I've never seen anything like it. Can I offer a suggestion?"
"Of course you can, young sir. I value customer feedback."
"When you're running around like that you should stick your arms out, like they were wings."
"Wings?" he exclaimed, his monocle popping out. "My dear boy, I wouldn't wish to appear foolish."