I have always loved the moon.
As children, my Foursome were accustomed to me pointing out a beautiful crescent moon or a stunning full-sized variety. I still do it now
and - mostly - they humour me. It has, therefore, been good to find that a large percentage of the country has joined the Moon Appreciation Society, thanks to the Super Moon phenomenon in the early hours of this morning.
I think my own tender feelings towards the moon hark back to childhood. My dear Dad used to tell me that, during the long war years when he was out in the deserts of North Africa with the Eighth Army, he used to write home to my Mum reminding her to
look out at the moon every night. Because it was the same moon they would be gazing on, however far apart they might be.
The night my lovely Mum died there was a full moon hanging so low in the sky that driving
home from work I felt as if I was driving right into it. I didn't know, as I drove towards it, wondering at its beauty, what I would wake up to the next morning - but in later days it comforted me to think that the splendid moon was lighting my Mum's way home.
Mr B and I decided that we needed to see the Lunar Eclipse and Super Moon. After all, this serendipitous juxtapositioning of Heavenly Activity will not occur again until 2033 and who knows whether we will still be around
to bear witness. The last occurrence was in 1982 and I like to think that we were excitedly training our eyes heavenwards way back then but the truth is I can't remember. We must have been. Mustn't we?
much discussion was needed around how we would wake up in time. Mr B said he was sure to be up anyway at three in the morning. He is Sleepless in Worthing. I was just as sure that I wouldn't. We could have set the alarm clock but then we would almost certainly
forget to re-set it, meaning that we would be woken up at 2.30 a.m. every morning for at least the next week. I checked the night sky before I repaired to my bed and it looked as clear as my windows will be once the window cleaner has called next Thursday
At precisely 2.17 a.m. I awoke from dreams of moon-ships and astronauts. Mr B, hearing me moving about upstairs, called up to ask if I wanted to see the moon. Indeed, I did.
Downstairs Mr B had the patio doors wide open, all the better to see the show. I hastily pulled on shoes and my red coat (yes, my polar bear dressing gown would have been warmer but I'd have to trek all the way upstairs again and I
didn't want to miss anything.)
As it happened - and as you will know if you, too, were up moon-gazing - the actual eclipse took its time. I made us mugs of decaffeinated coffee for us to sip as the Earth's
shadow moved against the face of the moon. It was, if truth be told, a little spooky.
I understand why Man wanted to challenge himself to capture the Moon but at a time like this morning, I rather wished we
hadn't, that we had left it to its mysteries and the possibility of being inhabited by the Clangers. Yes, indeed,we watched with bated breath in 1969 as Neil Armstrong climbed down from the lunar module and spoke the very first words from the Moon. "What did
he say?" we asked each other, straining our ears to hear properly. Something about small steps and giant steps? Now, all these years afterwards, everyone knows exactly what Neil the Moon-Man said at that most historic of moments. Fortunately somebody was listening
We watched, companionably, as the last sliver of moonlight disappeared into the shadow, as the moon turned red and the hundreds of stars splashed across the night sky, applauded silently.
Oh, the stars! What a starry, starry night, it was!
I didn't wake up until nine o'clock this morning. I might have stayed in bed longer but the gasman was coming to service our fire and boiler. He phoned me
while I was still eating my Weetabix, to say he was about ten minutes away, having just completed his first job of the day. He sounded extremely chirpy. I can't imagine he stayed up until four in the morning to watch the moon's incredible performance.
Mr B shows me the newspaper which reports that, according to the superstitious, a Supermoon can cause temporary insanity.
Guilty as charged! I'm Mad About The Moon...