Yesterday lots of people celebrated the 40th anniversary of the moon landings. And it is a mighty achievement to celebrate.
Some of us, however, were not old enough at the time to stay up and watch it. So for me the real anniversary is today. Forty years ago, as I sat in a sunny classroom, probably pulling faces at Andrew (sorry, Andrew!), Mrs Northcott wheeled in the big television and we all watched the men on the moon. I was seven, and it was incredible. It is hard to describe how incredible it was. It opened up for me all the amazing possibilities of science and technology and imagination.
Firstly it was incredible because we got to watch the telly instead of doing real work, like practising joined-up writing or doing maths. But mainly it was amazing because I got to see the astronauts on the moon!
I knew they were up there of course. Everyone was talking about it, and once they had set off until they came home safe, I waved goodnight to them from the garden before going to bed. Just so they knew I was thinking of them. It was a routine for all the Apollo moon landings. Wave goodnight to the men in the moon.
Until I was seven there was no definitive answer to the question "Is the moon really made of cheese?". Grandma said "Of course not!", but she couldn’t prove it because no one had actually been up there to see. Just like no one could tell me how they knew what colour dinosaurs really were. Now we knew about the moon at least! The dinosaurs still give me trouble.
It looked like such fun too, bouncing around like the ground was one big trampoline. Sticking up flags and bouncing – what a life! Plus you got to see the stars without all that inconvenient cloud and atmosphere in the way, and the Earth from outside. I was already reading science fiction about trips around the solar system, and they seemed like true stories, not fiction, as I watched Buzz and Neil cavorting. Of course, they must have been written before the actual moon landings, but it was a long time before I worked that out.
Only twelve people have ever done it – walking on the moon. It’s very special.