It’s not true, I wish it was, but it’s not. However, like anything populist it becomes bigger than the truth. And the truth is that 50 years ago, Neil Armstrong took that small step down a rickety ladder covered in tinfoil and became the first man on the Moon. It was a giant leap for mankind and there was no mention of Mr Gorsky.
My childhood was punctuated with radio and TV broadcasts of astronauts going to and returning from space. Thanks to Blue Peter and enthusiastic teachers, everyone at school had an Apollo rocket made from the inside of toilet rolls, topped with a Ski yoghurt command module covered in the gold foil from Cadbury’s Bournville dark chocolate. I reasoned with my parents that only gold foil would do for my masterpiece, the fact that it was my favourite chocolate was neither here nor there.
I loved all things space, though from the comfort of Earth, where there is proper food and flushing toilets. I ate my bodyweight in Cross and Blackwell spaghetti hoops to collect enough tokens for a commemorative poster of Apollo 8, the first rocket to orbit the Moon. It was worth it, though I’ve not eaten spagehtti hoops since.
When the Eagle landed, I saw the scratchy images on our tiny black and white television and cheered, along with the rest of the world. When Neil talked of peace on earth and left the plaque on the Moon saying just as much, my childlike heart was happy. The world was happy, unless you were in Vietnam, that is, they weren’t happy there, neither the Vietnamese nor the American soldiers in that pointless and inconclusive war. But that was forgotten for those few amazing days in July 1969.
The scallywag who spread the rumour that Neil uttered ‘Good luck, Mr Gorzky’ while waiting for Buzz Aldrin, gave us all a bit of a giggle. The story goes that Mr and Mrs Gorzky’s argument was overheard by a youngster playing in the yard. ‘Sex? You want oral sex?,” she yelled to her husband. ‘You can have it when that boy next door walks on the Moon’. That boy, so the story goes, was Neil Armstrong.
I’d like to imagine that after he took Communion on the Moon and tidied away the wrappers and other litter, Buzz put his arm around Neil, looked over that curved horizon towards Earth and shouted to all mankind ‘It’s a beautiful world, don’t fuck it up, it’s fragile, it’s precious’.