Monday, July 20, 2009

Also On This Day In History..............

History and a Google search both agree that 40 years ago today men landed on the moon. That's all well and good but my history of this day only has to go back 4 years to remind me that July 20th 2005 was when I had a heart attack.

Bet you won't hear about that on News At 10 today !

Yes, my brush with death will not get the same coverage as a couple of guys in a powered tin can 'picking up some dust', 'drifting to the right a little' and when finally seeing the contact light come on, switching off the engines and dropping the last few inches to the lunar surface.

I guess I can give them their moment of glory and thank them for making it easy for me to remember the date of my heart attack. Due to the time difference between our two countries, I can't use the date of the first moonwalk as a reference as they did that on 21st July from OUR reckoning. Still, as it was their show and they paid for it, it's only right and proper that history records today as the day man first stepped foot on the moon.

Naturally there have been numerous tv shows recalling this great event over the last few days and plenty more today. Yesterday the crew of Apollo 11 were at the Air & Space Museum in Washington and this was an historic event in its own right as it's very rare to see the reclusive Neil Armstrong at all these days.

What gets me is how alike they all look now. By the way, the guy on the right is Chris Kraft, the man mostly responsible for creating NASA Mission Control. He just wanted in on the photo.

As usual, Neil looks SO happy. Trust NASA to pick the American equivalent of Victor Meldrew to be the first man on the moon.

So where were you when this all took place back in 1969 ? And don't say 'not born yet' you young whipper snappers. I was just 17 and home from boarding school with one year of my sentence left to go. I was in front of the tv, as excited as an MP looking at his expenses cheque and had settled in for a long night. Thankfully for us all, Armstrong and Aldrin were excited too and brought forward their moonwalk rather than taking a planned sleep period. Can you imagine reading the flight plan and seeing that they'd got you down for a nap between landing and walking on the moon !!

Apollo 11 : "The Eagle has landed."

Mission Control : "F.A.B Neil. About to go blue, breathing again, blah blah blah."

Apollo 11 : "Can't see any cheese, lots of big holes and can't wait to get outside and play."

Mission control : "Well hang on there guys. Just put her in park and have a nap first. You've had a long trip after all."

Apollo 11 : "You CANNOT be serious. Buzz, crack open that door, I'm outa here. Now then, is it A man or just man ? Oh sod it, I'll just wing it, nobody will remember anyway."

And so it was written, so it was done. Man had landed on the moon - or on a movie set in Arizona if you're a few crystals short of a chandelier.

But back to me as, after all, I'm the important one on this blog. In 1969 I was a spotty faced, greasy haired teenager who wanted to be there with Neil and Buzz as it was all so glamorous and exciting to me then. In 2005 I was a scared shitless middle aged man lying in a hospital bed waiting for the results of the blood test that would show I really had had a heart attack. The two scenarios couldn't have been much more different.

Obviously I survived both. Tired but excited, I fell soundly asleep in the early hours of July 21st 1969 but tired and terrified, I didn't sleep a wink in the early hours of July 21st 2005.

Up on the moon, I doubt if either Neil or Buzz were terrified. I'm not sure Neil knew the meaning of the word. It seems the only time his heart rate went above 100 was when trying to get out through the hatch to start down the ladder. It was a very tight squeeze when wearing the bulky environmental backpack needed to breath of the moon. So when you hear his slightly breathless words, he wasn't pausing for effect. The poor guy really was breathless !

I love that they felt the need to leave a plaque (We Came In Peace For All Mankind) to show others (??) that man had been on the moon. By the time the Apollo 17 crew left the place 3 years later, it was pretty obvious man had been to the moon. Half a dozen non flutering flags, a similar number of descent stages, 3 lunar rovers, and God only knows how many bits and pieces of very expensive...bits and pieces. Probably a few fast food cartons too. Oh and a golf ball somewhere. Can you imagine what a future alien visitor will make of that ?!

Never mind returning in 2020; NASA needs to send Wall-E there first to do a clean up job.

"That's one small step by man, one giant rubbish tip by mankind"


ruth said...

So glad you survived both experiences. Shamefully I don't seem to remember 1969 (not because I'm a young whipper snapper but I have developed a useless memory function). I do know that in July 2005 I was probably looking forward to a holiday in Greece - my last holiday abroad. Anyway, happy anniversary and many congratulations.

Daphne said...

Where was I? In bed because I had a geography test the next day - - I was thirteen. I wish my parents had said "Sod the test - - watch the moon walk!"
Couldn't someone have said "SMILE!" to those astronauts in yesterday's photo?
I'm smiling now - - because you survived the heart attack. No more of those, please.

rhymeswithplague said...

Fun post, Ian, in spite of the sour look on Neil's face. My favorite line: "a few crystals short of a chandelier"!! Here, we say things like "a few fries short of a Happy Meal," "his elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor," "a few bricks shy of a load" and so forth.

I'm so glad you survived July 21, 2005, or we wouldn't be having this fascinating conversation....

Debby said...

1969...I remember tyring to stay awake to watch the moon walk. I couldn't. I definitely wasn't 17 at the time!!!

Now, 2005...that I remember. Guess we really do remember what's important to us.

jay said...

Do you know, I have no idea where I was when they landed on the moon, but in all likelihood I was in bed asleep. I didn't do late nights/early mornings very well in those days. I was always the one who fell asleep at parties. I'm sure people must have just assumed I was stoned. LOL!

jay said...

I'm glad you survived, by the way. I know that wide-awake-and-terrified feeling! Not that I've had a heart attack, but I have given birth twice.

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