I saw a book online the other day called No Requiem for the Space Age. The title got me thinking: requiem, space age. Without having read the book I wonder if its about mourning the loss of the space programme; a sense of bereavement that something great and good has gone forever.
It's odd having grown up in the Sixties and Seventies: the promise of a jet-fueled future was always as close as the vapour trails in the sky; close enough to see but never quite within reach.
The Sixties and Seventies came and went: Captain Laser himself was put away and, alas, my real jet-pack never arrived.
Man landed on the Moon when I was 10 and never really went back. That was forty five years ago. Just the jetsam of Apollo remains, a lengthening shadow across the lunar days.
I still can't decide if the sense of loss I personally feel about the demise of the space age is confused. I can't ignore the fact that my own childhood coincided with the space programme and the two ended together, like pals parting at dusk,
The two are hard to separate. I think about one and the other is, well, just there. My childhood, like millions of others, piggybacked the space mission and we all landed on the Moon. It was a giant leap for childhood more than anything and its vision fueled mine and probably millions of other kids' dreams for the rest of our lives.
Like the waves, the Moon has a tidal pull on us all. My teenage Sister would moon bathe. I would aim rockets at it. My parent's would hold hands and stare at it.
So maybe there is no requiem for the space age, no need for one because it's still alive. Alive in the baby boomer generation's hopes and ... well, fears too maybe. Perhaps the high tide of Man's achievements is yet to be, that searing goggled future where we should live.
The future's so bright we gotta wear shades. We want it to be true.
Although from a different and distant struggle of perhaps the greatest generation, the generation who had no choice, the motto on my old Mum's WAF papers somehow sums it up for me:
per ardua ad astra. Through adversity to the stars.
Like Santa landing on the roof, we all willed Apollo to land on the Moon that Christmas back in 1969. Our present on re-entry was going to be a new Tomorrow.
Although it feels like we're running on empty, we've just got to keep wanting it.
* title from On The Move by Thom Gunn