Friday, 21 June 2013

'Like A Jewel' by Pauline Fisk

The rocket man said no, even before he set off.  There are some things you won’t stoop to, and bagging moon dust for sale back on earth was one of them, especially sale by some company operating out of Jersey, calling itself Planet Earth Holdings. 

The company texted, phoned and emailed not just Space Control UK, but the rocket man personally, but he refused to reply.  Even after he’d been launched, they were still trying to get through to him as if they actually thought there were mobile phone masts in space. But all they got back was a engaged beeping sound that went on and on and on and on….   

The PR people for Planet Holdings started a grass roots campaign.  They raised public awareness of the value of moon dust by cosying up to the right journalists and a couple of useful blogsites. The idea caught on so fast that it never had time for a tipping point. It went up like wildfire. 

Suddenly everybody was blogging about bringing dust back from the moon.  Pride in the achievements of Space Control UK turned to discontent. All this messing around with rockets had been paid for out of the public purse. Pound for pound, that moon dust belonged to the Great British man and woman in the street.  Their rocket man, funded by their taxes, had a public duty to bring it back to them.

People started phoning Space Control UK.  God alone knows how they found the number. The story made it onto the radio, and then TV.  Chatlines filled up with indignant callers demanding moon dust as their human right. Some wanted it sold to raise money for the International Children’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight.  There were arguments about what would happen if the EU lay claim to it. Some people reckoned it should be adminstered by Lottery.  Some subtle voices whispered that the safest hands in this situation were the good folk at Planet Earth Holdings – a company nobody had heard of before, but whose shares[ on the subject of sky rocketing] were now aiming for the stars.  

Questions were asked in Parliament.  The country had crippled itself, announced the Labour front bench. In its attempts to prove that it was still an important nation, it had been brought by the present government to its knees - and were they now going to deny its citizens access to what, in effect, was their own moon dust?  A nationalized industry needed setting up, analyzing moon dust and making it available on a basis of need. No way, announced the Tory front bench.  Moon dust should be privatized. Already discussions with Planet Earth Holdings were under way.

At this, a mob took to the streets. The matter was discussed in Cabinet.  When the police joined forces with the mob, a COBRA meeting had to be held. Rumours abounded about moon dust’s properties. The Government’s Chief Scientist was called in. Air Force chiefs advised. The people from the Space Programme were called in.  The Church had something to say. So did Greenpeace and the Friends of the Earth. Was it ethical to remove dust by the rocket load from the moon?

Everybody had something to say, but no agreement could be found, as tis often the way.  The Cabinet was split.  The Prime Minister was prevaricating. The Deputy Prime Minister was no fool.  He appraised the situation like a hawk, and seized his chance.

Up on the moon, the blackness of infinity was so intense that the rocket man could not just hear it, but actually see it sing.  Dust lay like fallen stars beneath his feet.  The earth shone like a jewel. It was the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen.

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