Can it really be 50 years since the future arrived wrapped in space suits and iconic helmets?
Can it really be 50 years since I collected baked bean tin wrappers to get a full set of post mission posters?
Can it really be 50 years since I did a school project on the moon landings obsessed with every detail of this remarkable moment?
Can it really be 50 years when the future suddenly arrived even to Blackpool, fuzzily flooding out of our black and white TV and my heart was pounding with excitement as the moon arrived in real life into our front room and after tea!
The bleeping radio transmissions and the distorted voices as they inched their way towards the lonely rock are etched on my memory forever. More life changing than punk rock that was 8 years away perhaps capturing the cynicism of the hangover and comedown after the moon missions fizzled out during the seventies.
At the time, tough, this was the ultimate trip. A trip into a potential future that I could grow up into. Yep – my 8 year old mind was made up! I was going to be an astronaut and live in space, far away from the damp loneliness of my home town of Blackpool and the dull monochrome of primary schools and the conveyer belt straight to the nine to five!
Yep – I was going to live on Mars!
Luckily I snapped out of that one and have lived my life in a far more practical and sensible way since then. Perhaps.
The moon landing moment was life changing.
The road I travelled was directly inspired the audacity and adventure of that moment and I may never have become an astronaut but I have lived in outer space since then.
ThatJuly I was sat in my school shorts transfixed by the future. From the take off…’ 5-4-3-2-1 blast off!’ – can you get any more iconic pop culture than that phrase! The tension of the journey to the moon masterminded by the geeks at mission control and new fang led computer smaller than the one in your mobile phone! Then the landing! These heroic blobs in the fuzzy images were climbing out of the lunar landing pod and putting their feet on the rock and the dust leaving the footprints that will still be there.
My heart raced at Neil Armstrong’s momentous words ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ Space wisdom! The space race may have had its own agenda to show those pesky Russians who bossed the universe but that way beyond an eight year old’s planetary perception and it was still thrilling to watch and wonder at the sheer frailty of the futuristic but fragile looking landing module as it retro rocketed its way onto the moon.
July 20th 1969 was a momentous day.
It was the day I got land on the moon and stay up after midnight and watch it all on TV…of the two things, oddly, the later seemed more sci fi and surreal at the time..the telly was never on after midnight and getting to stay up after midnight and on your own was more momentous than a moon landing!
The future was suddenly in fast forward and even if it seemed to be a bit of let down when we got there surrounded by dust and the vast emptiness, the momentous moon moment was pivotal for my generation. To be honest I don’t think I ever came back down again and no amount of high decibel or any stimulation has helped. At the age of eight I overdosed on the future and I’m still there floating in orbit was Major Tom.
The lunatic flat earth naysayers who claim it never happened are heartless and have no heart and a soul more barren than the moon itself. Their cobbled together non evidence can be brushed off quicker than the moon dust from Neil Armstrong’s kecks.
In the hangover of this extraordinary adventure I yearned for the 1975 Mars mission but that seemed far too far away in the future. I dreamt that one day I would also live on another planet. I read everything. I collected everything. I watched everything. I was the space face. The kid on a mission.
Space was the place. I was a space oddity. An orbiting lunar lunatic who embraced a different future that never seemed to arrive. The moon landing was the scientific version of Beatlemania – a momentous moment of creative optimism that caught the can do optimism of the sixties perfectly. A moment when the world dared to dream and the possibilities were suddenly limitless.
It changed my life forever. That heroic healing rush into the future that was etched into the then pop culture and the moon landings. A time when the future was now. A time when all space and music was limitless. It’s still there even in pop culture and science and even if the cynical me me me Trump agenda has reduced the whole universe to one foul man that dominates the agenda, the future can still be now.
For an 8 year old boy allowed to stay up after his mum and dad had gone to bed it was an introduction to the possibilities of everything, an introduction to staying up into the night and an introduction into the possibilities of what can be done.
It was louder than war.