My recent Spark Preston Talk On Space
November 27, 2017 9:57am CST
The theme for the last Spark Preston true story telling event of 2017 was Space. As ever the talks took place at The Ham & Jam Café in Preston city centre. It was such an occasion that even Darth Vader came along to participate – actually a talk on how the speaker acquired the costume. My own contribution was really a string of stories and anecdotes, mostly tapping into my formative years. Like many pre-adolescent brats I dreamt of being an astronaut and I was seven when Armstrong & Aldrin landed on the Moon in 1969. As the UK coverage of the live events was in the early hours of the morning I had to beg my parents to let me watch it all, and my Dad eventually agreed to stay up with me. Though I watched The Eagle land and Man’s Giant Leap my dad fell asleep and missed it all. I woke him up as I headed for bed. I found myself feeling sorry for Michael Collins, the astronaut who had to stay alone on the Apollo 11 Lunar Capsule while Aldrin & Armstrong had all the fun. It was the ultimate designated driver job. I would have hated being left behind, and I think of Collins whenever I find people expecting me to mind tables, drinks and coats while they get up to dance in bars. I remember staring at the Moon over the nights the astronauts were up there, naively hoping that if I stared hard enough I might see the lunar capsule orbiting the Moon. I was that dumb. I still sometimes walk into lamp-posts trying to stargaze, and most times the stars really put on a show, with partial eclipses, comets, meteor showers or the Aurora Borealis, I get angry on seeing nothing but clouds. The Moon landing of 1969 certainly fired my passion for science fiction, and I got into Star Trek when it was first screened here, except sadly it clashed with Coronation Street which the rest of the family liked better. As we only had one TV, I had to see only fifteen minutes of Klingons and Romulans before the awful Soap Opera took over. I hate Corrie and all other soaps with a vengeance to this day. My first visit to Jodrell Bank, the radio Telescope in Cheshire soon followed. I was amazed by the giant receiver dish, and in the Visitor’s Centre there was a scale model of it that you can adjust with buttons and a joystick. As sheer dumb luck had it, as I moved the joystick, the real central dish was starting adjustments and I was watching that through the window convinced that I was making that happen, oblivious of the model spinning round crazily just clear of my line of vision. When the real telescope stopped moving but the joystick still operated, I was convinced that I’d broken a multi-million £££ telescope, and that I might be in trouble, but then I noticed the model, and felt quite daft again, a child trying to be all grown up before my time – I guess nothing really changed between then and being fifty five. A huge thanks to all at Spark & Ham & Jam Café. I look forward to the events of 2018. Youtube Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield, Cheshire Arthur Chappell
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You were not one bit daft. You just had this overwhelming interest in all-things space. Living in a Chicago suburb as a kid, field trips were always at some wonderful spot in the city of Chicago. The Adler Planetarium was always a thrill for me. Being inside the planetarium had me mesmerized.