"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)
Sunday, 16 May 2010
T Plus 21
Anyway, to celebrate our twenty one years of unwedded bliss we exchanged gifts, and here’s the fantastic presents I received (she must really love me).
What you are looking at here is “The First Book Of Space Travel”; “The Letters Of Pliny The Younger”; “Encounter With Tiber” written by Buzz Aldrin; and a set of Apollo postcards.
“The First Book Of Space Travel” is an American book published in 1953 before the space race had really begun and well before men were sealed into capsules and sent aloft. It’s obviously a children’s book but has some charming illustrations as you can see...
Quite brilliant. I’m gaining quite a collection of early space books as well as those relating more directly to the Apollo period. I like their optimism and expectation; it’s a shame things didn’t work out like they thought. I’d be writing this from my spaceship on the moon if they had. Regular readers of this blog may recall that as well as a thing for space, I’m also quite keen on things Roman and have been after a book of Pliny the Younger’s letters for a while now. What’s that all about then?
I was watching a documentary on TV about the destruction of Pompeii some years ago in which they mentioned that in one of Pliny’s letters he gives his own eye witness account of seeing the eruption of mount Vesuvius. In it he describes a pyroclastic flow, possibly the first description of such an event. In fact, if I recall the documentary accurately, they said that his description was regarded as exaggeration until pyroclastic flows had been studied in modern times and everything he wrote about was then vindicated. I’ve had it in mind to read that description ever since but not really got round to it. Recently I decided it was time to get hold of a copy of Plinys letters and find out more not just about the volcano but also about Pliny. It’s one of those names you hear of but don’t know anything about who he was. I could have bought a new copy of the book but wanted to get it second hand. However, despite a rather extensive search I’ve not come across a copy. Mrs Kitsch did though and I’m chuffed with it.
Another thing I’m always on the lookout for are space race postcards. I haven’t seen many, it’s not the sort of thing that turns up in charity shops, you have to go to specialist postcard fairs for them, and even I’m not that sad yet, or E-bay, which is where Mrs Kitsch found these top quality items.
Fantastic. But I’ve saved the best till last.
This book “Encounter With Tiber” written by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes, is a science fiction novel. I knew Aldrin had written one, in fact he and Barnes have written a couple, the other one is called “The Return”. It’s another of the many, many space books on my “to get/read” list so I was chuffed when I opened the package and saw what it was. Nice one Mrs Kitsch. But then, as I was thumbing through it, what did I see but...
Oh yes. It is a signed copy!!! A book written AND SIGNED by a man who went to the moon. THE MOON! I was actually speechless when I saw this. I couldn’t manage to say any real words, I just made noises. I’m still a bit stunned and extremely pleased. Is it any wonder I love this woman as much as I do? I hope she liked my meagre offerings. The thing is, and forgive my sentimentality here, the best present is the fact that she still loves me after twenty one years. I’m a very fortunate man.