An Apollo Space Boy

I was a space boy. In the late 1960s while dad was posted to SEATO, we lived in Bangkok. For the first time in my life I became aware of events in the larger world. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the Vietnam war and the moon landing.
I’m not sure what it was about the Apollo missions that caught my attention. Perhaps it was the media, though at that age I don’t think I took much notice. More likely it was the cut-outs on the back of cereal boxes. You could paste these together your make own moon lander, and inside there were plastic models. I collected them all, and for a long time kept a portfolio of magazine and newspaper clippings.
On the day of the landing, we filed into the school hall to watch vague images on the TV. I could barely out what was happening. But I was there.
A few months later we stayed in a hotel on the way home. Alison and I were mischievous toe rags, wandering the back rooms. We stuck a moustache on the Buddha sculpture.
We found our way into the telegrapher’s room.
‘Do you want to talk to Mrs Armstrong?’ he asked.
Then, yada yada, as he (really) plugged cables to make the call.
‘Are you Mrs Armstrong?’
‘Nah, you’re not Mrs Armstrong.’
‘Yes I am.’
After hanging up, we berated the telegrapher. ‘No way, that was Mrs Armstrong.’
‘Do it again.’
So he repeated the entire procedure all over. Yada yada, click click.
‘Are you Mrs Armstrong?’
Now I thought I’d ask a cunning question.
‘What colour are moon rocks?’
Good one. For years I was sure, was that not Mrs Armstrong, but looking back, who was it?
And it sparked a life long passion for the great adventure that is science.

Rod Taylor

I never lost my passion for science. Since then I’ve become a full time science writer and broadcaster, and the author of two books. Ten Journeys on Fragile Planet is due early 2020. My Ask Fuzzy column appears weekly in Fairfax.