I have spent the best part of the last week rusticated in the Lake District sans net and with only sporadic Freeview (UK digital terrestrial) telly (is Freeview ever anything but sporadic?).
Anyway, I expect you’re expecting to be regaled with tales of the beauty of the English countryside and how it rained all the time. Well, it is beautiful and yes, it did rain quite a lot. But… I’m not going to go on about that now am I? No. You’ve all heard those sort of tales. To those that are interested in such things piccies of our greatest National Park will appear in due course courtesy of flickr or some such (and be flagged here).
Instead I’m going to write about one of Cumbria’s less well known attractions - Michael Moon’s Bookshop in Whitehaven. It doesn’t look much from the outside but it just goes on and on. It’s huge and packed to the rafters with old books, magazines and prints. It’s incredible and utterly perplexing because it is not well ordered which is quite annoying because whilst mooching there I’m sure there were loads of books I’d have loved to have bought but finding anything (or even just browsing) is utterly daunting - it’s biblio-overload. It’s a great shop though and the proprietor, Mr Moon, is the very model of an antiquarian book-dealer. Surrounded by grimoires and ancient paperbacks he looks rather out of place with his wifi Toshiba laptop.
Anyway, I did get a couple of things there. Here is one of them:
Reminders of how the future is an object of the past and the cities on the moon that were never built are poignant for me. It’s the full magazine and I shall frame it (and the other one about the British Army’s 1939 amphibious “wonder tank” - they cost two quid each - dreams are cheaper than spit) to always remind me… Well… I suppose we got Facebook instead.
It wasn’t that long ago that we had a future. I mean, we have one now; the world isn’t going to crash into the Sun or anything like that. What I mean is that we had a future that we could clearly imagine. The future wasn’t tomorrow, next week, next year, or next century. It was a place with a form, a structure, a style. True, we didn’t know exactly what the future would be like, but we knew that it had to be one of a few alternatives; some good, some very bad. The future was a world with a distinct architecture. It had its own way of speaking. It had its own technology. It was for all intents and purposes a different land where people dressed differently, talked differently, ate differently, and even thought differently. It was where scientists were wizards, where machines were magically effective and efficient, where tyrants were at least romantically evil rather than banal, and where the heavens were fairyland where dreams could literally come true.
That’s from this most excellent website.
One day I hope that that heaven shall be accessible and I still (at 35) have an outside chance of seeing attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. Or something. I wanna (at the least) see Phobos and Deimos setting over Valles Marineris at the least from my nano-tech bath chair.
Because beautiful as it may be this planet is beginning to bore me.
Per Ardua Ad Astra!