I JUMPED from 15,000 feet and rolled over in the air to see the chopper whirl away as I plunged earthwards. 

I soon spotted my target landing area, clearly demarcated in a formal garden, and in no time at all I touched down, surrounded by neatly clipped box hedges and flower beds. An attendant appeared from nowhere and began to bundle up my chute, and a welcoming party was soon shaking hands and leading me into the Scottish Baronial castle. 

All this security surrounded the home and headquarters of F, the secret controller of forestry in Europe, and indeed, a large, impressive figure came forward and greeted me by my first name. We had met frequently in the ’80s and ’90s, when things had started to go wrong, but F had stepped forward to attempt to bring some much-needed order to forest policy and forestry people.

READ MORE: Forester's Diary: Forestry Commission is industry's big joke

But F had become yesterday’s man in the post-Brexit times. And he had sent for me as an ally to see if something along the lines of the 1970s/80s could help to bring order to the current chaos.

F was little changed over the years. He wore the traditional tweed suit, expensive brogues and his jacket lapel sported a small gold badge which only he and I recognised. But that is another story, isn’t it?

We entered the castle, the passages hung with portraits of F’s ancestors and sporting prints.

Magnificent stags’ heads adorned the walls. And another old friend, F’s darkly beautiful personal assistant Miss Hemlock, greeted me as always, fashionably attired, having just flown in from Canada. We laughed together about old times, including the epic day when we free-fell together, over the castle for the first, but not the only time. Ah, those were the days.

We dined that evening in the lofty dining hall and settled down to review the day’s discussions. We agreed, as usual, on what should happen and how it could, or even might happen. We agreed on who should be activated and we spent the day going through our lists of contacts. 

Who should we put in charge of press relations? This is a key area and one which foresters of all nations consistently get wrong. We hear all about the human stories behind the catastrophes, but never a mention of the losses of commercial timber or indeed of how many tonnes of carbon have ascended from Greece and Hawaii in the last month. What we are told is many holidays in the sunshine are ruined. We know all about that.

F was his customary self, and I had little doubt that he had the situation well in hand, with the right policies defined and the right people in the right places, in perfect position to take over as climate change alters our perceptions of how things should be. In that he is undoubtedly ahead of the game. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and, as we digested our main course of roasted grouse and later sat in deep, soft leather armchairs, served with F’s superb 25-year-old malt in beautiful Stuart crystal glasses, we reminisced about the past.

I was able to give the assembled diners a druid’s-eye account. They had a complex but effective way of dealing with fires in dry vegetation and with replanting after fires in heather and molinia which I won’t go into now. Suffice it to say that ancient rituals and ingredients are involved. 

Breakfast was a leisurely event, but F had made his usual early start and indicated that he wanted a session with me alone before the helicopter could be summoned, so we sat in his office with Miss Hemlock and ran through a few action points. My job was to find ways of getting rid of people who get in the way. Sounds easy, just at this moment, don’t you think? Then we would meet again in Australia.

But that is subject to change. Another 500 hectares in south-west France is blazing away as I write.

There are various forest types in the region, from the pinewoods of the Landes to semi-mature oak. The French have traditionally been much better than anyone else in Europe in awareness of the value of forests, so it will be interesting to see how they publicise this latest disaster.

F, with his rather pragmatic approach to commercial forests, was a popular figure in the past for just this reason. The French tree of the year could never be a geriatric rotting oak. In France, oak and commercial timber are closely linked.

But, yes, I thought as much. F’s silver chopper is warming up and we are due in Paris at 10 am. Great! Could it be? Yes it could. Something’s happening. Something good!