That was the week that was



Richard Lutz looks back on the seven day run-up to Christmas

With this year’s holiday season zooming up on us, two stories perfectly blend into each other.

One is Brit astronaut Tim Peake roaring into space on an economy flight brought to you by the Russians. Major Tim is a likeable media-friendly cosmic hero. Just right for an angsty Britain caught up in terrorism paranoia, immigrant anxiety and the demolition of Chelsea’s power-mad manager. Nice to have a nice story and Timmy the Astronaut fits the bill.

This real life tale segues el perfecto into another story (cue John Williams music). And of course that is the Star Wars movie this week coming to a multiplex near you. Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luike Skywalker, George Osborne…, only kidding.

This movie is a totally generational. Little kids who live next to me know nothing about the continuing film saga. Folks in their seventies shrug. It is for boys now in their thirties and forties and their parents (me, actually)  who all went to the first one back in the late 1970s and saw that spaceship glide effortlessly above us in that opening shot. My elder son has bought tickets for next week. So, the calendar includes The Millennium Falcon, turkey and trifle.

I pay tribute to both Major Tim and The Dark Side by stumbling across 2001: Space Odyssey on the TV. I am immediately sucked into it. It is the best space movie  by a light year. Kubrick uses silence, no sound whatever, to portray external galactic scenes. There is no whirring, no roaring, no zipping past of a meteor. Just cold aural blankness.

I had not seen the film for a long time…  this epic about how a computer goes doo-lallie aboard the spacecraft as it hurtles towards Jupiter. But the director ratchets up the strangeness, the tension, the  fear of the remaining space pilot as he hurtles towards a universe that is inconceivable and just may all be in his mind.

Pershore woodlands

Pershore woodlands

Space aside, and down here on Planet Britain, I go for a walk near Pershore.

The River Avon curls around the pretty town with its medieval Abbey spire sitting like a crown just off a rambling High Street. The river waters are brown and lively as it winds and tumbles towards the Severn. The bankside is all mud and by the time Paul and I get to the old woods above the town, our boots are caked with a light brown ooze.

We wind through the oak, ash and wild plum trees and are surprised, even with this mild wet winter, how much birdlife is around us. With no traffic noise, I expected silence- the silence of 2001. But the birds are all over the place. Can’t see them. They are all around and above us. We meet two kids, and it’s so warm they’re in shorts. They have  cameras- not mobile phones with click and shoot – but real live SLR cameras. They’re looking for woodpeckers to photograph, maybe for a Scout project.

I return home with boots cemented in riparian mud. I put my gear in the shed so they can…well, actually, so I don’t have to think about them really.

I hear boyhood voices next door.  My neighbours’  two little sons are getting excited by the impending avalanche of presents. One asked his mother “..if Santa is related to God?”

Might as well be. It’s a good question.