Tag Archive | Apollo 11

When was the last time I was scared?

Truly scared? Scared for my life?

That would be when I rolled my car into a ditch on 31 January 2006. I have never had any points on my licence, no speeding fines; and I hate it when people drive too fast, refuse to wear their glasses or carry on with no regard for fellow road users. So how come I managed to roll my car into a ditch and land upside down?

A momentary lapse of concentration on a dark and frosty morning led to me sliding sideways on a patch of icy mud by the local farm, hitting the kerb and turning my Peugeot over. I wasn’t driving fast, but I had to admit to the policeman who breathalysed me (negative) that I was clearly driving too fast for the conditions. It happens. All I can say that I held on to the steering wheel as tight as I could, swore a lot (F***ing Hell was the phrase of the day) and waited for the car to finish performing its stunt.

I was lucky. I managed to climb out of the back window which had smashed, clamber out of the ditch and call for help. being highly claustrophobic I left the engine running, the lights and radio on as I could smell petrol and escaped from the scene as fast I could. I was truly impressed when the ambulance arrived after 12 minutes; the fire engine after 15 but not so impressed 30 minutes later when the police arrived to a standing ovation for their fellow emergency services colleagues.

The ambulance staff took my pulse rate and blood pressure and commented that they were perfectly normal and very impressed they were too after my surprise acrobatics. I wasn’t so impressed as I was reading about the Apollo astronauts at the time and told them that “Buzz” Aldrin had sat in Apollo 11 at launch with a pulse rate less than mine at rest!

Fortunately all was well. I had no concussion and was able to return to work the following week. The experience has however left me a nervous passenger and it is not one that I would care to repeat.

My son and his friends who were 10 at the time however were well impressed that I had managed to roll a car into a ditch, land upside down, write it off and survive the experience and when I collected Will from school at the end of the week I found myself surrounded by boys wanting to know the fine details in amongst gasps of disbelief and respect!

For a day at least, I was a hero!

“Reach for the sky”

“Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger and Toy Story star. I can’t think how many times over the last 15 years have I watched my son launch himself off his bed imitating his on-screen hero yelling ” To infinity…………and beyond!”  and hoping for a safe landing.

So, what happened to “Buzz” Aldrin, the real-life astronaut and second man to walk on the moon behind Neil Armstrong, and the man who inspired Disney to name their character after him.?

Buzzes Lightyear and Aldrin have more in common that you may think.

In Toy Story 1, Buzz’s attempt to fly out of a window results in him breaking off his left arm. Buzz then goes through a very dark period (especially for a children’s film) firstly having a nervous breakdown, followed by a bout of depression before the story continues to reach a happy conclusion.

Buzz Aldrin too suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism and at the age of forty-two, his US Air Force career was apparently curtailed when he was admitted for psychiatric treatment. It seems that nothing could match the experience of being launched into space and walking on the moon and he was left, like some of the other lunar astronauts in the 1960’s and 1970’s with a sense of despondency and thinking “What next?”.

Although Aldrin has achieved more in his lifetime than most, many think that his biggest challenges were fighting the depression and alcoholism, which blighted his life for a long while costing him his first wife and young family. I often think about this when I’m feeling sorry for myself, struggling to cope and putting everything on the “too difficult ” pile. If it’s not easy for a brave, heroic, strong astronaut like Buzz, then the mere fact that I’m still here and still battling on is quite an achievement and should not be underestimated. So hang on in there, dig in deep and in the words of Buzz’s mate Woody…..”REACH FOR THE SKY!”