IF you want to get ahead in .1. Fleet Street these days the thing to be, according to the pundits, is either a science correspondent or a city journalist. You need, of course, to be pretty good at sums for both of these jobs and as most reporters are virtually mathematically illiterate it is understandable that editors should be prepared to offer the earth and space to men who can both add up and string words together correctly.
If I had the necessary arithmetical expertise I would not object to trying my hand at interpreting the city trends and charting a way for the reader through the financial jungle. But the thought of acting, even temporarily, as a science correspondent is enough to send my blood into orbit. Stocks and shares may lack poetry, but they are positively altruistic when compared to rockets.
Yet to read some of the words penned in praise of the recent American Moon shot by science correspondents you could be forgiven for thinking that "Saturn 5" was a step forward in the march of civilisation. I prefer to believe that it was a big step backward. Any rocket— whether Russian or American —should be considered an affront to civilisation: unfortunately necessary perhaps from a military viewpoint, but an occasion for sombre resignation with no glad words.
All the talk of technological development is so much brainwash. All the quaint euphemisms like "lunar probes" and "exciting possibilities" are so much cant. Space exploration is nasty and it is likely to get a great deal nastier before we are finished with it.
Mr. Peter Fairley, the bright and enthusiastic Science Correspondent of the Fvening Standard, filed this exhuberant piece from Cape Kennedy: "To the Seven Wonders of the world an eighth was added today—Saturn Five.
"Simply to record that the world's biggest rocket — 364ft. tall, 3,0(X) tons blasted off successfully on its maiden flight, burned 12 million gallons of fuel in 11 minutes flat and thrust a 40ton moonship out into space would be to insult the encyclopaedias and history books.
"This called for more precision than the construction of the Pyramids, dwarfed the Colossus of Rhodes and the Statue of Jupiter, outshone the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in its beauty and relegated Pharos at Alexandria, the Temple of Diana and the Tomb of Mausolus to the category of minor phenomena.
"This was modern man's answer to the lot."
Mr. Fairley records that it was the most exciting moment of his life. Around him —"as the monster rocket rose—tears of emotion were running openly down the cheeks of experienced space writers. Nothing like this had been seen before."
But what were these writers crying about? Not for poor old modern man, I bet. and his appalling addition to the Seven Wonders of the World.
A YOUNG priest called at the house of Jimmy Greaves, the famous soccer international. "Can I speak to Mr. Greaves?" he asked the star's wife. "I am afraid my husband is practising," replied Mrs. Greaves.
"Oh!" said the priest, "is he a musician?"
Unabashed, Mrs. Greaves said that her husband was a footballer. "How interesting," retorted the priest. "I used to play a bit myself at one time."