Friday, 27 July 2007


The revelation that certain NASA astronauts have been caught ‘drunk on the job’ comes as no surprise to those of us who have closely watched the space race between the USA and the former USSR over the last 50 years.

It takes a certain courage to willingly strap yourself into half a ton of metal and be hurtled up into the bleak nothingness of space. And I don’t think it’s such a great secret that much of this courage is the Dutch variety.

In an age when some people seem to need a few swigs of whisky just to run a minor political party, should we be surprised that someone exposing themselves to the pressures of space travel might need the odd drink or two?

We shouldn’t be overly critical. Just lately, I find I need at least a couple of beers before I can be cajoled upstairs to nestle into the (admittedly ample) bosom of Mrs Blunt, so heaven knows how many crates of Budweiser I’d need before I could be persuaded to travel higher than 20,000 feet.

The Russians started it, of course. They established early on that a few vodkas didn’t get in the way of successful space flight, just as their initial experiment with sending a dog into space was designed to prove that it was possible to smoke up there. The plucky cosmonauts (Yuri Gagarin, in particular) had put their foot down, and refused to contemplate being rocketed into the ionosphere unless their nerves could be calmed by a few cigarettes during the process.

That’s why, when the Americans docked with the Russian space station, Mir, in 1997, they were alarmed to find the place awash with empty fag packets and vodka bottles, the whole place little more than a revolving, 120-ton garbage can by this stage. In the fine spirit of détente, they soon found themselves relaxing with their Soviet colleagues, even if their Cosmos cigarettes (famously advertised by Gagarin as 'The best in the Universe!') were a little harsh to their taste. Little wonder that there were reports of 'a small fire' and a 'collision with an unmanned spacecraft' during the American stay on Mir.

But no great harm came of it, at the end of the day.

So, let’s back off from criticising the brave lads and lasses who traverse the universe on our behalf, and salute them – or ‘Salut!’ as they say in Spain. They're as entitled to a good drink and a drag on a cigarette as anybody else.


Sugar Queens Dream said...

That was a great post Bill. I really enjoyed reading it and when you wrote about Mrs Blunts ample bosom and your few Beers, I have admit I giggled. I think our Journalist here found out they can say anything and we will listen so when they hear even the slightest gossip they relish in telling the world! Its almost an embarrassment really. I mean, they have came on the nightly news here and broad casted things that were not true(Gossip) only to follow up the next day with a disclaimer that it was NOT true and they were misled. But I feel if they run off half cocked on the slightest gossip then they deserve people to seeing them as the liars they are.I'm all for freedom of speech and even freedom of journalism , but wheres the line.....
Great post Bill!

70steen said...

Great lunch time reading Bill thank you... 'bottoms up' is what I say (I would imagine this could possibly be the angle you may find yourself whilst floating in zero gravity after a nip or 2 of 'courage')

archie said...

I wonder what the alcohol limit will be when space is filled with vehicles and there are white lines to separate the traffic.

Shinade said...

I am here once again to not only read one of my favorite blogs, but, also to declare that my daughter spent yet another night in your wonderful pubs----and she did consume a pint or two of ale again. Now I have yet to hear a word about the wonderful museums or even Oxford it's goodness you Brits must have wonderful pubs and yummy ale...and you are correct in today's post. Some people expect everyone to be perfect---if we continue with this so called new politically correct thinking---we will soon find that no-one will qualify for any position.~jackie

Bill Blunt said...

Thank you, Sugar Queens Dream. You wouldn't be the first to giggle at Mrs B's ample bosom.

Yes, 70steen - some day, I am sure Congress will be told of the millions spent by NASA on the development of invertable beer cans that don't spill a drop.

Well, archie, you raise a fine discusion point...

shinade, your daughter has impeccable taste, which I can only imagine she has inherited from her mother. Our beer may be just a tad warmer than its transatlantic equivalent, but it is usually served with a smile (unless you're in the Doctored Dog at Stockport, of course: