29 August 2012
52 years old
I was saddened to hear about the death of Neil Armstrong a couple of days ago. As a child of the 60s I have a clear recollection of watching him step onto the surface of the moon, and remember vividly the excitement the Apollo 11 mission generated. I put some of this into my short story Cinnamon:
We gather cross legged in the school hall to watch men walking on the moon, on a black and white TV. ‘How marvellous,’ says Mrs Taylor. I don’t understand her excitement at these unfamiliar pictures; after all, she flinches at the sight of my mortadella sandwiches. The thick cut bread, the meat that isn’t ham. In the staff room they all eat neat, small, sandwiches and drink milky cups of tea. I take my turn with the other girls on staff room duty, emptying the tea leaves from the large aluminium pot and wiping up the scraps from the table into pages of The Sun newspaper. The teachers stand straight and are proud to sing God Save the Queen every Monday morning at the flag pole.
I remember coming home after school, walking into our living room, and seeing Dad in there, watching television. He didn't go into work that day.At school we did a class project about it, collecting newspaper clippings from before and after the landing. I remember thinking Neil Armstrong was quite handsome, at least as handsome as Major Anthony Nelson from I Dream of Jeannie. In many ways astronauts were the rock stars of the day.
I can only hope that Neil Armstrong is circling the universe right now, as a brand new star. Good-bye and hello, again.