Sunday, 25 January 2009

space cadet

There I go again, clocking up more motorway miles. Totting up the distance I've driven in the Traveller since I got it, I find that it's roughly the equivalent of going to Proxima Centauri, which is not too bad going, even if Proxima Centauri is about as near to the Earth as it's possible for a star to be. Unless it's the sun, of course.

There are other similarities to interstellar travelling, as well. Like that funny business with relativity, where when you come back from space you find that you've only aged a little bit but everyone else has got much older, or is now long dead. What with the needle on the Trav's Smiths speedometer rarely venturing above the 60 mark, I observe a similar effect when I get back from a trip to the Midlands, except that I've got older too.

What got me thinking about space travel was the stuff I was eating while driving on Friday night. I got some pasties before we set off, from Joe the Baker on the Gloucester Road. They were very nice, and sort of qualified as astronaut food in that they came in a sealed container, even if it was made of pastry. Of course, you can't suck up the contents through a straw, but hey. If I were an astronaut I think I'd like to have a stock of cornish pasties on board, for those moments when you're being attacked by the Mekon and you fancy a bit of comfort food..

Much more astronauty, I can't help feeling, and what got me thinking about this stuff, was the packets of crisps I bought at Hopwood Park service station. They were doing a special deal, two packets for a pound, and there were some interesting flavour options. (I like to push the culinary boat out now and then - I once bought a Full English Breakfast pizza at Tesco's. It had bangers on it, and bacon and egg, and beans, and it was just about as delicious as you can imagine.) So I had a packet of Fish and Chip flavoured crisps, and a packet of Cajun Squirrel flavour.

The fish and chip flavoured ones reminded me of Great Yarmouth, when I found myself there one rainy Easter. I was wandering around the industrial zone, past the abandoned Birds Eye factory, looking for the Nelson Monument. The tide was out, and there was that rich, fetid smell of damp and decay in the air. I wondered if the person who had mixed the artificial flavourings had ever been to Great Yarmouth when the tide was out. Whatever, it was inspired.

The cajun squirrel tasted like nothing I have ever tasted before. So it probably tasted like cajun squirrel. Not jambalay, crawfish pie or fillet gumbo. Cajun squirrel.

I did feel a bit ill by the end of it. But no-one ever said the life of an astronaut was all plain sailing.