Friday, 28 August 2015

The light years


The above photo of me is for the benefit of Shawn. She has not seen me since the mid 1970s, and I want to break it to her gently, just incase she makes a surprise visit to Bath.

She made a little search for me on the net a couple of weeks ago, and the only hint came when she stumbled across a fellow stone-carver's website which included a photo of me (with dark hair), head down and hacking away at a piece of stone for the Theatre Royal. That photo was taken in the 1980s, and as far as I know it is the only one of me up there which uses my real name in the credit.

She eventually found the pub website and actually asked me if I knew how she could find me. Her comment came just above my previous comment and - not recognising her at first - I replied, "That's me. How can I help?"

In 1976, she had left the apartment here in Bath to go on a rare night out, leaving me looking after her 3 year-old daughter. Daughter woke up and began screaming the place down, mainly asking the whereabouts of her mummy - well, 'mommy' actually. Unlike some Welshmen I know, she spoke with an American accent even then, before she moved to the U.S. for good.

Nothing I could say would placate the little girl - no reasoning helps in situations like these - so without turning the lights on, I took her to one of the large windows and held her close to it as we looked at the stars.

It was a rare, crystal-clear night and they were bright and sparkly. I began by trying to instil the notion of light-years in her, by telling her how many of them it took for the little pinpricks to travel all the way to her eyes, all the while knowing that this concept must be almost impossible to explain to a child who has only experienced three of them to date. I find it hard to conceive even now. It's telephone numbers to me. She became quiet and thoughtful - very thoughtful - and after ten minutes or so, meekly agreed that she was sleepy and would like to go back to bed. She slept soundly for the rest of the night.

I like to think that my little lesson in astronomy/astro-physics had more of an impact than I first thought. A couple of years ago, I ran into her father here, and asked after her. If my maths is right (which it seldom is) she must be 42 now.

He said that after graduating, she got a job with NASA, designing parts for spacecraft.

Some of her designs are whizzing around in space over my head as I write.

I'm going to add a bit onto this post. The picture was taken in London, outside the swanky restaurant where we had just celebrated H.I.'s birthday. Daughter had ordered a posh cake at the end of the meal - all cream and fruit piled high - and the waiter came up and whispered to us that they had dropped it on the way up the steps from the kitchen! We could not stop laughing.

21 comments:

  1. You obviously started something there Tom.

    Love the hair by the way.

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    1. If people don't know who is being talked about, the talker sometimes says 'hair', and then all is clear.

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  2. Make the most of it Shawn, it's more than the rest of us bloody get.

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    1. Please understand that you were never involved in my early life of over 40 years ago, Rachel. Try to be generous with your emotions. It always pays dividends if you can manage it.

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    2. I am happily sharing them with Shawn.

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  3. Here is an interesting thing - when that photo was taken, I thought my life was over. I could see no future. I thought that I would never survive for even one year, but here I am a year later, and still here, almost intact.

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  4. You have a lovely mop of hair

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  5. I love your hair! You're obviously a good looking guy, why would you not want us to know what you look like?

    I like the story about you and the little girl on that night long ago. I'll bet she never forgot it.

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    1. I'm sorry to have to disabuse you of that idea, Jennifer, but she has totally forgotten not only that night but Tom himself.

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    2. Ha Ha! I knew it! Like I said, 'I like to think...'

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  6. I guess I should feel honored to have elicited a photo. OK, I feel honored, or honoured. But I already knew your hair was white because I saw a creepily elongated photo of you somewhere online. I''m so sorry, though, not to be able to see your lovely face, no matter how lined and sallow it has become.

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    1. Hopefully you will some day. I've seen plenty of photos of you, Shawn, and you don't look any different from when I last saw you, except for the glasses. I have lost track as to how many other children you have had since S., but I am aware of a brand new grandchild - everyone one of your Facebook friends keeps showing me pictures!

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  7. Well….I think you look rather attractive …not lined and sallow at all!!

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    1. Some old Greek said that you got the face you deserve by the time you are 40 (I think). I know what I did to deserve mine.

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  8. The thing about blogs is the way the story unwinds, this time through the comments. A scary moment of a child crying uncontrollably and being soothed by looking up at the stars manifests into same person working for NASA. Then mum comes along and dashes the final outcome of the story. Still I would like to believe that staring at the stars did give inspiration to a small mind.

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    1. I would like to believe it too, which is why I tell the tale. Shawn has only dented my convenient theory a little...

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  9. Mum comes along and offers one of her typically facetious comments, not being one to show sentiment in public especially among strangers. I cherish the thought of that moment though despite not having experienced it myself.

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    1. Oh, I thought you meant your mum. I met her once, didn't I? No prospects, but she liked me anyway.

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    2. She did like you and gave you a coffee table book of Maxfield Parrish paintings, if I remember correctly. It was when she came over to nurse me through a bout of pneumonia.

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    3. I remember your temperature, but I had forgotten it was pneumonia! What an inattentive person I was. I don't remember any chicken-soup either, but I am sure there must have been.

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