It seems to happen almost every time we go on holiday. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: What shall we do today?
Mr Toad: You know, the one thing I’d really like to see here is (insert name of museum, attraction etc.).
Me: Great, let’s go.
Only to arrive and find that it’s closed. Poor husband. It never happens to me, it’s always his special place that’s unavailable. In Oslo, the Kon-Tiki museum, in Moscow the Cosmonaut Museum. Thankfully, the gap left by the latter was filled this weekend here in London. The Science Museum is hosting a fascinating exhibition on the history of the Soviet/ Russian space programme, called, unsurprisingly, Cosmonauts.
The exhibition is interesting from a scientific and political point of view, but also from a creative, visionary perspective. I discovered that the idea of space travel goes way back to the 19th Century and the Utopian ideals of Nikolai Fyodorov. He believed that mankind could achieve the highest possible state and even immortality, and colonising parts of space was an integral part of that. He even believed we should strive to one day be able to revive the dead. Something of a minefield that one, I mean, who would decide who is worthy of resurrection? Would it be a privilege of the wealthy?
Anyway, to space travel and colonisation. Of course, we will have to push back the boundaries of science by some distance before we can make it happen. If, and when, we do, who gets the call? We will have to populate distant planets with a range of people, you can’t just have scientists, essential though they be. So there has to be a place for creative people, and what will they bring to the party? Writers can, and will, write. Musicians are always needed. (See my previous blogpost about Ernest Shackleton and the banjo.)But, ultimately, where will inspiration come from? Our current – only – world, is a hive of interconnectivity. You say something that reminds me of something else, or gives me an idea. I jot it down, or I even tweet it straight away. Somebody likes my tweet, and they write a blog, or make a podcast on the subject. Or just write in a diary, kept only for their own amusement. Maybe space is enough of an inspiration, there’s enough of it! Perhaps it really will be like Star Trek, with a new alien encounter every week. That should keep us busy.
Whatever, if I get the call and I go, I shall keep creating. I shall organise an intergalactic amateur dramatic and storytelling group, with a bit of stand-up comedy on the side. If the aliens (Are we allowed to call them that?) want to join in and tell a few gags or read a few poems, they would be very welcome. Reduced ticket prices for travellers from far solar systems/ galaxies. Please check your phasers at the door.
As someone who doesn’t really even like aeroplanes, there’s not much chance that I’ll be selected to be thrust out there, but I can still dream, and that’s creativity enough for me, thank you. In the week that the first British astronaut made a space walk, I think we should all dream a little.
Whatever else, do get to the Science Museum if you can, and marvel that any man could comfortably sit in one of those pods for even a few minutes, let along be rocketed above the skies and into orbit. My poor back would never be the same!