Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fluffed lines and the wandering A: from Neil Armstrong to Randal Keynes

Still very busy do the Darwin's Pilgrims tour, so little time to blog. Have now done shows and visits in Cambridge and London. Tomorrow Birmingham and Friday Shrewsbury. Will supply a fuller account when it is all over. 

But this morning we visited the Darwin's Big Idea exhibition at the Natural History Museum, which was fantastic (as was the behind the scenes tour of Darwin's fishes from Karen James: thanks!). And to see with one's own eyes the "I think" image from Darwin's notebook was amazing.

But remember my alter ego, grumpy old Victor Meldrew. Well, I got nearly to the end of the exhibition, before I experienced the "I don't believe it" moment! 

Randal Keynes misquotes his own great-great-grandfather!!! Instead of "There is grandeur in this view of life..." he says "There is a grandeur..."!

How can this be? 

Well, I have a slightly silly explanation. Remember how Neil Armstrong fluffed his lines when stepping on to the moon: "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" instead of what he meant to say "one small step for a man". Well the missing "a" must have been cycling on in hyperspace for thirty or more years, before suddenly landing in Randal's mouth. How else could such an eloquent man make such a mistake.

Or alternatively, we could invoke a catch phrase of English comedian Al Murray, and playfully shout "shame on you Randal!"

I don't believe it!!


Mark Pallen said...

My wife says I was very mean to point out this mistake when Randal was so kind about my book last week. Randal, if you are reading, please accept all this as a playful tease rather than any earnest criticism. I have already found several typos in my book, despite all the proof-reading!

Karen James said...

Heh, love the idea of the missing "a" flying through space and time from Neil Armstrong to Randal.