I watched the take off on a black and white telly in my front room. I was five. Me in Kenton on school holiday, them in America, on their way to space and the Moon.
The telly had wooden screw legs. Three channels. We had a sideboard with Dennis Wheatley books in it. A gas bar fire. And a picture that was rather weirdly painted over the fireplace thing.
I sat in my dad's chair and watched the take off. But I wasn't got out of bed to watch the first steps on the moon, like some people say today that they were.
I got a special plate as a memento. It was bigger than normal plates, with a picture of the landing and the names of the astronauts and everything. A raised edge and a blue border. I ate my breakfast toast off it for years. If we had boiled eggs I'd have my egg cup on sitting on the plate with the soldiers on there too. Sometimes I would eat sandwiches at lunchtime off it. Or even ginger biscuits from Sainsbury. I think we broke the plate in half. Dad Araldited it back together.
It's on my list to do before I die... see a live rocket launch that's got astronauts strapped inside. I'd like to hear the roar and the rumble, return to the motel and then read about Andy Kaufman after we've chatted about the experience. Fun in the madhouse. "Here's a truck stop instead of Saint Peter's."
When I went to Washington DC I popped into the Smithsonian and I wet myself at the aeronauticals display hall. I'd seen a space capsule in London's Science Museum already, so I wasn't freaked out as much by the ancient 1960s toggle switches and deck chair material they used for the seats. What did do my head in was the other space stuff the Americans had they we didn't. Most importantly, there was Glamorous Glennis suspended from the rafters. Glorious Glennis obviuously being a better scrawl for a plane than Glennis Dickhouse. Glennis was flown by her husband, Chuck Yeager. First man to go supersonic. I've watched it on "The Right Stuff."
I don't have a black and white telly in my living room now. But I do have a orange painted signed model of Glennis. It sits on my desk while the certificate of authenticity is safe in my sideboard drawer. My copy of The Right Stuff sits on my book shelf.
I saw Glennis and the space hall the day they put Saddam Hussein to death.