December 20th, 2003


A Man With Mousey Hair

There seem to be rather a number of scientific stories in the press of late: the Beagle approaching Mars, the dominance of 'dark energy', the phenomenon of global dimming. I too have managed to create a localised distortion in the space-time continuum or whatever the hell this is called or whatever hell this is called or this is called hell, whatever...

There's about a fifteen second delay between the broadcast and streamed versions of the radio. Generally, I'm in here listening via the net, and obviously go into the kitchen area occasionally for refreshment... mmm, looks like we're down to just pink grapefruit juice. This difference in timing means that as you come from the kitchen into the bedroom, you hear again what you have just heard. Proceed in the opposite direction and a small chunk of content is lost as you race forward in the programme. The intriguing thing, or intriguing at this time of night just before bed, is that although you jump forward in the programme, this future world... hold on a minute. I know it's not a future world, rather it's the bedroom that is living in the past. Sarmoung Mansions is just a glorified isolated container with no reference to the outside world aside from looking out the window and various communication devices and small demons stood by all the doors to keep the place warm. But they could all be lying! Anyway, this small step into the future is intriguing because nothing is significantly changed. Okay, the news item is a little further along, but it's still Tony Blair rattling on about Libya and it doesn't seem like I've missed anything of note. Although I can't know the actual content in advance, it always conforms to certain strictures or expectations. Even if the news item changes, it's nothing entirely unforeseen. It's not like the language has changed. Perhaps at one point in the future I will make that walk and there will be some disgusting Lovecraftian language growling out the speaker in the kitchen. At this point, I will know the world has been lost. I could, however, reenter the bedroom and experience a few dying seconds of the life before. There is something odd about this that I cannot quite put my finger on. It's only a simple matter of delay, but it suggests ways in which reality could be experienced/manufactured with the presence of small edits here and there. You might not notice. I'll say it again, they're stealing time from us. But what are they doing with it?

I haven't seen a Mars headline since the Viking missions. I watched as much of this as I could back in 1976. Space missions used to command almost non-stop broadcasting, even in the UK. I can't see that happening now. Where's my EastEnders? Back then, it was easy to think that by this time, the impossibly futuristic 2003, we'd have already made serious inroads into space. If I had been told back then that we would not now have large-scale orbiting space stations with populations of hundreds, settlements on the moon, manned missions to Mars and even beyond, I possibly might have gone seriously mad. The idea that we were getting somewhere kept me going much of the time as a child. The books were filled with glorious supersonic jets that would fly the world in three hours, underwater cities, functioning robots. But by the time of the Space Shuttle or Shittle as I just mistyped it, it was getting clear that we were being shortchanged and everything was downsizing. Now, we seem hardly capable of raising the money to launch a baked bean into space, so I'm very glad about the Beagle.

Should it work out, sometime over the heterodox Christmas period we'll be able to watch the first new Martian landscape in over 25 years that's not viewed from the sky, but how it would look if you stood there. WE NEED TO GO! What the Sam Hill are we supposed to be doing otherwise? Perhaps we will all end up dying here at our own hands, through action and inaction, and there will be precious little evidence of us ever having made it briefly into space. Two, if we're lucky three, tiny machines down on the Martian surface. I wonder if they are any microphones on Beagle. I'd love to hear Mars almost as much as I'd like to smell it. If we survive, I am sure we will think about going again, I'm certain those things are inseparable. The human race has no future on this planet. It truly does make me sad that we are so pitifully near the start of that journey. When I was young, I was certain that by this point in the future I'd be able to travel into space. They used to offer flights in cereal packet competitions. Perhaps one day, in a sort of Spielberg moment, these people with their worthless travel coupons will all amass together somewhere and take a ghost flight into that future. Wasn't that Heaven's Gate? The wounds of disappointment, abandoned children, cults destroying themselves or you can stuff your face with popcorn and third-hand plotlines.

Because I can hear Jonestown but am still having to wait on word from Mars.