I was really quite upset to hear Red 4 was down. I watched the news – flicking between Sky and BBC with little hope. I saw him a month ago in the skies over Southport. Alas, I have no photos. I used the last of my battery charge on XH-558. The Red Arrows go on forever of course – or so I thought. I have seen them before and I shall again. I should have saved some time but… Isn’t that life? And death.
I should have said something earlier but I wanted the dust to settle and didn’t really know what to say.
Then I picked up an old collection of sf stories called “Master’s Choice Vol.1″ I’d bought recently for pennies in a second-hand shop and happened quite by chance upon “Requiem” by Robert Heinlein – a story I had never read. It starts with this quote:
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will!
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
- Robert Louis Stevenson
The story is about an elderly businessman who due to his personal passion invested early in space, made a packet from it and despite the better judgement of his company and his legacy-seeking family, employs two washed-up rocketeers and burns it all for one lonely impulse of delight – to visit the moon. Where he dies.
Flight Lieutenant Egging, it shall go on because you are not the only one to love the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
Per ardua ad astra!
We just want to go home.