Space-Kids we were

Those of us of a vintage, we who were born in the 1950s grew through our childhood and into our teenage years through arguably the fastest moving technological era since an ape picked up a jaw bone and lit a fire with it, just like on that film “2001 Space Odyssey”, or killed someone with it, something like that anyway.

In the year that I started school a Russian Cosmonaut became the first man in space even for just a few minutes and we made our mothers go out and buy Typhoo Tea instead of Ringtons because Typhoo put small picture cards inside the packets of tea and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was on one of them, Yuri, sounds like Yogi, as a five year old I liked the idea of a man (nearly) named after a cartoon bear being the first man in space.

In that same year that the five year old JerryChicken and his mother were walking the terraced rows of Burley towards Brudenell Infants  a President in America promised to the world that by the end of the decade an American would walk on the moon and this five year old kid believed him, for it already happened in the comics that he read, in fact people were living on the moon already in those comics, surely the President understood this too ?

In my day dreams while sitting on rough coconut mats in Miss Whiteman’s reception class listening to her waffle on about a boy called John and a girl called Janet I dreamed of the house that I’d live in on the moon in just a few short years, why I’d hardly long be out of short pants before I’d be wearing a pair of those silver tin foil ones with a goldfish bowl on my head, life on the moon would be a plastic technical dream world of scooters that hovered in the air just like in Fireball XL5, we’d all be armed with ray guns to kill off the occasional worm-like moon monster or worse still those pesky invaders from Mars, but as a moon-teen I’d take it all in my stride and be home to our clear plastic dome prompt at 5pm for our mother to prepare the single pill labelled “fish and chips” or “steak and kidney pie” for our tea, presumably the apple pie and ice cream pudding would be all contained in the same pill too for there only ever seemed to be one pill on the plate.

James Burke and Patrick Moore live on the BBC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUP5IKyOiio&feature=related as Apollo 13 returned from a moon orbit powered by nothing more than the elastic out of someone’s underpants and navigated in the same manner as Columbus had four hundred years before had us all holding our collective breath as the capsule lost radio contact upon entering the earths atmosphere and we all leaned forward to try and be the first to spot the parachutes – or not as the case might have been, more than that and something you can’t see on the video the tension mounted as Navy divers swam to the capsule to peer in the door and confirm that yes, there really was three alive astronauts in there and not charred remains like your dads tea if he called in the pub after work instead of coming straight home.

And just a year earlier as a 12 year old I’d got out of my bed in the middle of the night and snuck into the living room to watch Neil Armstrong step out of the Apollo 11 landing craft onto the moon, just a few more years now and I’d be doing the same myself I thought, Ned joined me in the living room and we gazed in awe with the sound turned down so our dad wouldn’t waken, but he did and came in to bollock us, saw what we were watching and sat down behind us and told us to turn it up, all three of us sat on the floor inches from the TV in our jimmy-jams gazing open mouthed at those incredibly poor quality TV pictures, at one point Ned pointed out that actually the picture was upside down and James Burke hadn’t noticed yet and it was true, our Ned who failed his 11 plus being smarter than James Burke, who’d have thunk it eh ?

Of course boredom destroyed the space-age, the generation that had gone from the Ford Popular to walking on the moon in ten short years simply grew tired of waiting for their new plastic domed houses on distant planets and instead forced those scientists to divert their attentions to non-stick saucepans and pens that would write on those rare occasions when you were being dangled upside down but also needed to jot something down quickly, my desire for shiny tin foil pants was forgotten as soon as loon pants, budgie jackets and Ben Sherman shirts came on the scene, more the pity for I always fancied myself as a sidekick to Flash Gordon and his homo-erotic adventures…

“But Flash, whatever happened to our trousers ?”

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