Launch , Cruise , Encounter………

And it sounds like all our lives
And it sounds like all our lives
And it sounds like all our lives
And it sounds like

You do not know me and never will
Bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled
It will be better, I do not know
You bring me dead birds and then you go

(Kathryn Joseph – The Bird)

It’s my birthday today!

I am 1,766,016,000 seconds old, which sounds like a big number, but isn’t really.

I like to think that I’m a little wiser…but doubt that.

I am no less curious.

I am no less full of wonder at it all.

I am still exploring.

I am still in awe of others.

I am still falling in love, daily, and in new ways with my Soulmate.

I am still taken aback by my friends’ capacity to be the amazing “hoomanz” that they are.

I am still able to walk a little lighter when my smile is greeted by another’s.

I am still in debt to the magnificence of others.

I am still lacking in answers.

I am still happy not to have the answers.

I am still a good hugger.

I am still a good huggee.

I still marvel at my kids ability to MARVEL!

I still can’t believe that I’ve made it this far.

I still cannot express my gratitude to you all coherently…or properly.

I still love you.

Thanks for reading this far, in the P.S. is the story of the Monaghan Man On The Moon, which still tickles me.

I think this whole thing we’re in together is fucking AMAZING!



P.S This is hauntingly beautiful, Kathryn Joseph’s ‘The Bird’.

P.P.S. This is the kids story :

Banba and Benny

Banba was the queen of all the giants, she protected the other giants and everyone that came to the Park. One night in 1926 as she lay asleep at the front gates she could hear a gentle sobbing. It was a young orphan boy, Benny Callan, who’d run away from his grandparents home in Corduff. He was resting against what he thought was a mound of earth and a pile of sticks, he couldn’t see that it was Banba resting and her hair. Banba gently folded her cloak around him and he felt safe and fell into a deep sleep. In his dream he told Banba that he felt suffocated on the small farm in Corduff. She told him to look up at the moon, it was a full moon.

“Can you see it ?”

“See what ?”

“Your name, there , on the moon.”

“My name ?”

“Yes, Benny Callan. Your name will be written on the moon forever. Anytime you feel afraid, or small, look up and remember this night and that I have seen your name there. You are meant for great things, I promise. Take a piece of my hair and keep it with you. It will remind you of this night and this promise.”

He was woken the next morning by the Rossmore gatekeeper and returned home.

Two years later Benny left Corduff on a horse and trap in 1928 for Ballybay where he caught the steam train to Derry. There he boarded the Anchor Line ship for New York. He worked as a farmhand and studied engineering at night and eventually graduated and got a job in the revolutionary new industry of aircraft. He excelled and was at the cutting edge of new technology eventually ending up at Grumann Aeropace. Benny became foreman under lead engineer Tom Kelly working on a top secret project, the design and manufacture of the Apollo 11 lunar landing module ,known as the Eagle.

Benny’s core responsibility was the emergency manual landing controls, which, if you think about it is a thankless task. You’re dedicating a large part of your life and career to something that you, and everyone else hopes will never be used.

On the afternoon of July 20th 1969 Benny Callan from Monaghan found himself with the Grumann team in the Kennedy Space Centre in a room adjacent to Apollo 11 mission control. As the time approached 3pm they listened intently to the live feed as their baby, the Eagle made it’s final approach to Tranquility Bay.

Through the radio cackle, with 10 minutes left until the planned landing they hear Neil Armstrong say “Our position checks downrange show us to be a little long”. There were sharp intakes of breath, they were going to miss their landing target. And then there was silence, the signal was lost. It comes back, relief, but then they hear the dreaded words “1202 programme Alarm” , guidance failure, they will have to switch to manual control.

All eyes turned to Benny Callan from Monaghan. He was staring at the screen, a small smile on his face,his hands in his pockets. He seemed calm. This gave the others confidence.

“1201 alarm !” more trouble. With 4 minutes to go Neil Armstrong realizes they are going to land on a dangerous crater and takes the Eagle out of autopilot mode and takes control. Benny Callan from Monaghan’s designed control. Armstrong must now manually guide the lunar module down. In the Kennedy Space Centre , Dean Krantz, the mission controller mutes the engineers microphones so the astronauts can’t hear how worried they are. In the adjacent room everyone is staring at Benny Callen. Benny is standing, a small smile on his face, staring at the screen , his hands in his pockets. Everyone remains calm.

The Eagle is travelling too fast. Everyone knows it. No one is saying anything.

“60 seconds.”

Everyone holds their breath. Sixty seconds of fuel is not enough to them to land safely.

“30 seconds”.

Silence. In the adjacent room everyone looks to Benny Callan. As before he simply stands there, a small smile on his face, staring at the screen, his hands in his pockets.

And then the radio link crackles into life :

“Houston…Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

There is uproar ! Everyone is cheering, hugging each other. Everyone except Benny Callan. When they turn to look he has fallen to his knees, tears are streaming down his face. As they rush over to see if he’s OK he takes his hands from his pockets and opens them to reveal what look like tiny twigs, Banba’s hair. He looks at them then looks up and smiles, saying “ Jaysus lads, that was close.”

The Eagle lunar landing module is still on the moon and bolted to  it is a plaque with the names of the Grumann engineers who built it…and one of those is Benny Callan.

Author: paul

1 thought on “Launch , Cruise , Encounter………

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *