How Time Flies

On Sunday 20th July 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. He said the historic words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Prior to that I had been fascinated by the thought of space exploration avidly following the cold war exploits of both the American and Russian programmes. My school friends regarded me as some kind of ‘Anorak’ as I appeared to be the only person of my age who could translate acronyms like N.A.S.S.A and L.E.M at the drop of a hat. I would sit for hours in front of our television with a hand-held microphone, recording everything I could onto my Philips reel-to-reel tape recorder, at a speed that was so slow there probably isn’t a machine alive today that could reproduce the recorded sounds. I had catalogued all of the major missions including the earlier Gemini shots. I would surround the microphone with cushions in an attempt to dispel any erroneous sound. Each member of my family would echo their frustration as I continually ‘shuu-shhhhushed’ at any hint of any sound other than that of the TV. The Friday before Armstrong set foot on our nearest satellite I had been at school finishing off a small footstool in the woodwork shop. I should add that I wasn’t the most practical of children (we were still children at the age of 14 in those days), and I saw the construction of this little stool, complete with its green wicker-woven seat as a great achievement. I remember being so proud as I presented it to my parents with due ‘ceremony’. My dad had been an excellent cabinet maker for most of his working life and, on reflection, he was most gracious in his kindness towards my four legged creation. That Sunday I remember sitting on that little stool as English became the first language to be uttered on the moon. That Christmas my main present was a huge Airfix model of the Saturn V rocket, complete with lunar module and removable men! You’ve no idea just how big that dust-gatherer was. Anyway, my dad suggested that I put the date in pencil on one of the inside-legs of my stool so that I might remember events more vividly at some future date. Well, as I write this, my little stool is right in front of me, complete with the aforementioned inscribed date 20.7.69. I sat on that same wicker seat the day that Armstrong and Aldrin walked into the history books and into the fortieth year in the life of a schoolboy’s little brown legged stool. Today our five year old grandson uses it to sit and watch TV. I guess that this is that future date that my dad was talking about. As usual, he was right.

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