The header to this post is a detail from a painting by my sister Esme Kyle.
I just found out today — I won a second Moon Prize from Writing in a Woman’s Voice for my micro-story Living a Lie
Wow thanks Beate! I am now officially Over the Moon!
The Moon has played an important role in my life. I was born on a Monday, have a pale moonshiney face and a moonish name. My first favourite thing to read was The Cat and The Moon by W B Yeats. The Moon landing first caught my attention and Star Trek which came to British TV that autumn captured my imagination. I loved The Sky at Night. I’d fallen in love — with Space. My universe expanded.
At 15 I was wearing some of the same clothes the character Janine wears in The Dish (that box-pleat brick coloured, miniskirt, the fluffy patterned jumper, the pink dress she’s got on when Glen asks her out Friday night)? Interrogative intonation seems appropriate to an Aussie film 🙂 Oh — and they didn’t look anything like that on my dumpy little self! As I said in:
My oldest sister had a set of those very oyster-shell glass cups. She even had one of Maisie’s dresses — the flock frock? If you’ve never seen this film, do. Script, costume, music, casting, cinematography — utterly spot on! It’s also very funny! And somehow the music just takes me straight back. Still can’t resist this one!
However, on July 20th 1969 the Murphys had landed at our house The Murphys, my mother’s aunt Sarah and her two daughters, Annie and Sissy lived in Belfast but used to show up (we didn’t have a telephone in the house back then let alone one in our pocket. I think our first telephone landed in 1970.) one Sunday every July and stay for their tea. They were always welcome but there was a degree of panic involved, though mammy had always baked buns on the Saturday night and there was usually some ham about. Still, one had to be on one’s best behaviour! The food was strictly guests first. When we were little, Great Aunt Sarah used to hand out silver sixpences, bright as a full moon, in exchange for a kiss on the cheek and that offset the inconvenience of having to put on airs, but she used to call me Jimmy which I hated, because I looked so much like her son. (I did!) 😦 I think I considered it rather an imposition that they should show up on that particular day!
That day the Moon landing was paramount in my thoughts. It was exciting and ‘other’ and scary and would they get back? or would God smite them? or us? Oh, make no mistake, there was plenty of that about! I had been following all the TV coverage prior to the launch avidly. I’d even earned the nickname (one of many) Loonahr surface, I was so keen. I wonder did anyone ever just call me Oonah? Anyway…
Now for the strange bit. I don’t remember watching the actual landing! My sister assures me I did. Maybe it was the Murphy’s threw me. Maybe I was overawed. More likely it’s just my rather unique memory (lack of) playing its usual tricks. I remember the Murphys leaving and us all at the front of the house waving goodbye. Everybody went back in and I looked up and saw the the moon hanging there above the Rowan tree, already bright berried, but of course it was a different moon now, and always would be. I turned to Esme and said, as I am sure many other thousands did,
“Strange to think there are two men up there tonight.”
Song to the Moon — Dvorak
Alas I am no adventurer. I don’t even like holidays much. Hate to fly!!! Not sure I am all that keen on taking the bus 😉 and I was never going to join Star Fleet!
I just love my own little patch of Earth and being at home. Nowt wrong wi’ that! But I am grateful to the Moon landings for extending me beyond myself and my narrow limits, to the men who did that exploration for us all and the teams and machines that continue the work today. I watch Brian Cox’s programs. He often expresses the belief in space exploration as something that gives us meaning. It does. But in the great scheme of things I believe that there is more to us than that. I think that we are, as all things seem to be, greater than the sum of our parts and that our consciousness is just passing through this fermion flow of matter. I say so in Three Pounds of Cells. which is all about consciousness. One day I hope to explore the universe from the outside ‘like a fish that knows water is wet’
In JFK’s ‘Go to the Moon’ speech in 1960, he said:
‘new hopes for knowledge and peace lie there.’
More political bravado in that than anything, though it was a ‘world event’. But there has since been international co-operation because of the space program. Notably the ISS.
60 years on, we have real and pressing problems here on this planet, and we need to resolve them. I have followed Voyager 1 & 2, Cassini-Huygens, Juno, Pioneer, Galileo, Mariner, Opportunity into space. We can learn so much about the universe. Surely if we can do all this, we can arrest our hurtle towards destruction?
I am concerned though that after half century one sees online, yes — on this wonderful new world wide web of ours, headlines like:
‘The Chinese may get to Mars first’ OMGiddy aunt!
Seems the human race still favours competition over co-operation, and we need co-operation above all at this juncture in history, and a renewed appreciation of all the life on Earth, microbial to whale. We must learn to live in harmony with each other and balance our numbers so that other species can survive too. I’d like to have faith in human nature but if we don’t change that key attitude, the race may be a race to our own extinction. That eclipses everything! We need leaders who will say We choose to reverse Global Warming in this decade. I see no evidence of any emerging who will do this.
Nonetheless, I am avidly watching all things Moon for the next week like I am 15 again.
I am looking forward to The Linnet’s Wings Moon Issue in which we celebrate and explore in words and artwork the legacy of that landing 50 years ago and The Moon in all her glory. We have a beautiful set of poems I think you will treasure. And The Linnet’s Wings is all part of that legacy. I’ll put up a link when we have BLASTOFF. Without the development of computer technology from that era on, none of this would exist.
In the meantime some of my Space related writings for you to enjoy:
series of 6 poems Armchair Observatory
Boldly Going Nowhere an homage to the writers of Star Trek.
and you can of course browse or buy: The Linnet’s Wings Book Archive