I remember lying awake in bed restlessly waiting; waiting for a morning that just didn’t seem to want to arrive. It was a special morning, a morning which would change my life forever. For when the dismal winter dawn arrived I would be a ‘big boy!’ No longer would I be ‘little Andrew,’ I would no long be ‘Chris’ little brother,’ I would be in my own right a little man in the world.
Instead of watching through the front window, I would now be able put on those drill grey cotton socks, shorts and shirt and make my way with all the other neighbourhood kids sauntering playfully down Cardome Street toward Cotswold Primary.
As I lay, I thought of the brown leather school satchel with the long shoulder strap that Mum would fill with yummy snacks for play lunch and big lunch. I knew the drill, after watching Chris for over a year. You had to present your satchel to the kitchen bench by 8.15am so Mum could fill it, comb your hair and make sure you had everything you needed for the day.
A few days before I had sneaked a peek in the hallway cupboard (that’s where all birthday and Christmas presents were hidden). I stopped in the cupboard doorway, mouth open (emitting silent glee) with eyes agog! A brown school satchel (with my name on it!) a pencil case filled to brim with pencils (some coloured), a rubber and ruler. I sniffed the satchel and was instantly transported to another world! I licked my lips at the shinny new black shoes and the crisp new uniform (with my name on it!). This was going to be the best birthday ever.
I finally fell asleep.
‘Wake up Andrew, wake up’, yelled Mum excitedly from the kitchen.
Had I slept in I wondered? Rubbing my eyes, trying to focus.
‘Wake up Andrew, the Americans have landed on the moon!’
For my birthday? I questioned sleepily.
‘Quick, get up and listen to the radio’ (Mum often put the radio on when she her morning cup of tea). She must have been listening to the news.
Mum was right of course and instantly thoughts of my birthday, my first day at school took second stage to space, the moon, to rockets and the planets, to stars and comets. From that instant I was transformed into a space junkie!
Even now I still dream of being an astronaut, I am still fascinated by anything cosmically related. My wife loves conspiracies and she takes great humour in telling me the moon landings were fake. That they were filmed and photographed in a sound studio somewhere.
How cruel is that? Its like taking away a 5 year olds birthday present.I can’t explain it, but whenever Kate mentions this I get very grumpy.
If I ever get asked what’s been the best birthday present I’ve ever received? There’s never any doubt, never any hesitation in my response, it is of course on my 5th birthday (21/7/1969) (the 20th in the USA) when man first landed on the moon.
Kia ora Roly