Author’s note: A year ago, up at my parents’ house for Christmas, I wrote a piece for a quarterly magazine called Nude. Shortly afterwards the couple who ran the magazine found that they were to be parents, so — no more Nude. The piece was a joy to write, because the loose brief — “magnificent obsessions” — allowed me to choose a subject that would be, well, fun to write about.
There are many examples of enterprises which have involved mind-boggling levels of dedication to a goal which was abstract, pointless, stupid or even unachievable — the Watts Towers, the first ascent of Everest, crossing America on a pogo stick — but I decided to go large and write about the moon landings. This was just before the 40th anniversary. There wasn’t much information readily available at my parents’ place, which remains stuck somewhere in the 1970s, a long way from the Internet. No problem, though. I wasn’t particularly interested in facts and figures. I wanted to address the spirit of the thing, its monumental scale and relatively modest aim. So I got to typing, drawing a few bits of physics, economics, and history from Andrew Chaikin’s comprehensive and engaging book A Man on the Moon. Mainly I was looking at the sheer demented splendour of the thing.
But Nude, of course, was defunct, so the article languished in the depths of my hard drive for a year, with no place to go — until now! In a few days I’ll be boarding a train back to the past, to spend a couple of weeks in the real world, so…here’s a present for all Nervous Breakdown crew. Have a good [insert holiday] and a [insert adjective] new year (if you’re on the Gregorian calendar).
“Of course it was all fake.”