Had he not died so tragically young, Carl Sagan would have been 75 today.
In recent weeks, I have been working my way slowly through the newly remastered DVD boxed-set of Sagan's landmark television series, Cosmos. It's every bit as inspirational as it was when I first (and last) watched it as a schoolboy back in 1980. My late mother would no doubt agree—although she would not mean it as a compliment.
Every week, as I sat in front of our telly, transfixed by Sagan's ongoing voyage of discovery amongst the billions and billions of stars in his space-ship of the imagination, mum would be fighting to stay awake. She found Carl's low, mellow voice incredibly soporific—although that wasn't the word mum used to describe it; a drone was how mum described it.
Don't get me wrong: mum thought Carl was lovely; he just sent her to sleep, that's all.
One week, mum decided to stop fighting it and took herself to bed. I continued watching telly, pretty much oblivious. Then, 20 minutes or so later, mum came tearing down the stairs in her night-dress, and ran into the kitchen. Then I heard her laughing:
"It's that droney American's voice!" she laughed. "I thought the fridge was about to explode!"
We miss you, Carl. I miss you, mum.