8 February 2011 (Tuesday) - What If...?

I hear the astro club now has ninety two members. I have slight reservations about this. Bearing in mind I was there when the club started, and I spent at least a year feeling that the format of the club when it started left much to be desired, I’m really pleased at how well the club has come on. However… ninety two members….  It makes for a very crowded meeting hall, and with that amount of people along it’s very easy for newcomers to be missed as they arrive, not welcomed by anyone, and to have gone home at the end of the evening having had a very lonely experience.
I *know* that this shouldn’t be my concern, and that I’ve been off of the committee for over a year, but I’ve taken it on myself to at least say hello to everyone as they come in, and to try to make sure that people are, if not getting on like a house on fire, at least have someone to talk to. With such a large membership this is tricky.
Still, better the problems of this large club than of the moribund one from the days in Stanhope community hall…

Talking of things astronomical, today sees the areo-nauts entering the descent module which leaves the mothership to (hopefully) land on the Martian surface. Exciting news indeed – or it would be. If only a manned mission to Mars were actually really in orbit around Mars, and not merely a simulation in a warehouse in Moscow.
My blog entry from 22 October 2009 described the Mars 500 mission – a simulation of a mission to Mars designed to see how people would cope being cooped up in a space rocket for five hundred days. When the project was first announced I was keen to volunteer myself. I have a (reasonably) respectable scientific background. However my “generous physique” and my inability to speak Russian counted against me. But there were more than enough applicants for the project to go ahead, and they set (simulated) sail to Mars last June. Today (or probably tomorrow) half the crew lands on a simulated Martian surface. I just hope I live long enough to see the first Martian landings for real.
I suspect it won’t be in my lifetime, though.

Meanwhile over on Friends Reunited I’ve found a colour photo from thirty six years ago. Can you tell which one is me? There is also a more recent black and white photo from only thirty three years ago. I’m reliably informed I’m in there somewhere. Whilst I was on Friends Reunited, I spent a few minutes finding out what some of the old schoolmates were up to.
One (with whom I competed for my first job in pathology) is working as an ecologist all over the country. He’s just finished working in Cumbria widening the A74 between Carlisle a Gretna, rescuing snakes and badgers from the paths of bulldozers! The school smartass teaches ambulance driving in Yorkshire. My ex-best mate is a director at Smith-Kline-Beecham. The senior geek is living in Prague where he is working for one of the world’s top banks. Mick is an engineer in Detroit. “Bonehead” works in Hong Kong. And one old mucker is currently living in Dallas (Texas) where he works for Cathay Pacific. He is a pilot flying passenger 747s across the Pacific.
When I left school (all those years ago) at the last grading we had before our “O” levels I ended up second in the class. I was academically streets ahead of all of them. Am I jealous of them now… Could I have done better with my life…
No, not really. It never pays to dwell on what might have been. Because had I become that surgeon or bishop or chief constable, I would most likely not have been at Dover last weekend, or at “Stargazing Live” last month, nor would be going to Brighton in May, or Teston in June…

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