I always seem to be away when space shuttles explode.

When Challenger disintegrated on launch we were in Melbourne. I was 16 and we were on our annual holiday ‘down the beach’. Back in those days there was no internet in homes, no cable tv – we didn’t even have a functional television in our rented sea side flat. I had to pick up the news from the radio, or I read about it in the Herald that evening as we caught the train back to Edithvale after seeing Oklahoma at the Arts Centre. I probably lay awake that night listening to talk-back on the radio I had stuffed under my pillow.

16 years later I was in Wagga Wagga and the situation was eerily similar. Away from home, no cable television, no internet – at least this time there was a tiny tv and Phee was complaining that there was nothing to watch on it. Rae got up to check what was going on and said “the space shuttle has exploded”. I was so sleepy I thought she must’ve been watching a commemoration of the Challenger. “But it says ‘live report'”. So for the second time in my life I got out of a strange bed and listened to sad families, distraught friends and uncomprehending bystanders talk about debris falling from a clear sky, smoke trails and tragic loss of life.

I wonder what will happen in the last week of January when I’m 48?

One Reply to “Columbia”

  1. You write interesting stuff Tony, brought back some lovely memories of our holidays when you mentioned about the Challenger tragedy. We have been experiencing smokey days too. Liked your photos too.

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