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8:41am on Monday, 13th August, 2007:

Perfidy of the Perseids


Argh, my neck!

I have a stiff neck this morning, on account of how I was out in the middle of the night looking at a meteor shower. Hmm, "shower" isn't perhaps the best word, given that I saw only one of them in 20 minutes, despite the promises given on TV and in newspapers that this year's show would be one of the best ever (a claim they seem to make once every 2 or 3 years).

The last time my neck got this stiff was about 10 years ago when my wife wanted some new lightshades, and we spent hour after hour in lighting shops staring up at lightshades, any one of which would have suited me but none of which met my wife's somewhat more stringent criteria.

I've spent hours Perseid-watching in the past. When I was a student working on campus during the summer hols, some of us would go out and lie down on a path away from light sources to watch them. Lying down on concrete may freeze you to numbness, but it doesn't give you a cricked neck. Also, we'd see roughly one shooting star a minute as we had almost the entire sky in our field of view. We'd stay out for maybe 3 or 4 hours, talking about this and that and pointing when we saw a streak of light in the sky, until the rising mist that came up from the horizon finally got so high that we could no longer see the stars. Then we'd get up, walk as if we had ironing boards down our backs for a few paces, and return to our flats.

One year, a university security guard came across us. He wanted to know why we were lying on our backs on a university path at 1am. When we told him, he didn't believe us; however, he was unable to come up with any suggestion as to what suspicious activity we might really be engaged in, so left us alone.

Last night, I saw as many Perseids as that night 25 years ago I saw security guards. I feel cheated!

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).