The Rocket Man of Aveton Giford

Godfrey had lived in the village all his life. Peaceful, the village rested alongside the tidal estuary of the river Avon. The quiet atmosphere only disturbed by the traffic passing over the old bridge across the estuary. It had been a beautiful day, the Sun, now started to bow it’s head in the western sky in early summer. Godfrey, tided up his greenhouse, it was time for him to make his way to the Fisherman’s Rest Inn, a routine he adopted for many years. Closing the greenhouse, he proceeded to climb aboard his push bike, adjusting the peak of his baseball cap, to shield his eyes from the Sun.

He started off down the lane, which was bordered by high hedgerows of either side. In recent days, it had rained, so the hedgerows gave off a smell of freshness, as the wild plants stretched their arms to greet the Sun. It was not far to the Inn, and within a few minutes, Godfrey arrived at the front door. Parked  his bike, and securing it with a chain and lock around a post, he wandered inside the Inn.

“Afternoon Godfrey”, the landlord Mike greeted him cheerfully, “A pint of the regular” he continued. “Yes please” replied Godfrey as he sat on his favourite stool at the end of the bar. The pint of ale was duly served, as Godfrey reached for a daily newspaper, which had been left on the bar.

Thumbing it’s pages, Godfrey gaze was drawn to an advert, which had been placed in the situations vacant column. Godfrey rubbed his moustache, to remove the residue of froth from his pint. The advert read, “Rocket Specialist required. Are you ideal for a job with N.A.S.A. if so, apply to the following address”. Godfrey thought carefully, he had always had an interest in space travel since a boy, but coming from Aveton Giford, openings in that direction, were few and far between. He took another sip of his pint, and looked at the advert again. he thought for a moment, “ Mmm I am quite knowledgeable about space things, maybe, I should apply, nothing ventured, nothing gained”, after all, he was not getting any younger, a ride in a rocket, nice, and they could only say no.

Finishing his drink, he carefully removed the advert from the newspaper, folded it in four, and placed it in his pocket. “Bye Mike”, he gestured to the puzzled landlord, who had noticed Geoffrey’s interest in the article. “See you tomorrow Godfrey”.

Making his way home to his cottage, Godfrey was composing his letter of application in his mind.  This could be an opportunity to his achieve his dream, to try and see the village from space, that’s if it was not cloudy of course. On arriving home, he found some paper, an envelope, and began to write. Signing his name clearly at the bottom, he placed his letter in the envelope, and addressed it. Because it was important, he put a first class on it, to ensure fast delivery. His letter would be collected the next day, from the village post box.

A few weeks passed by, then one day the postman delivered an envelope to the cottage with a strange stamp on it, he had never seen one like it before.  On the top left hand corner, were the initials, N.A.S.A. Godfrey’s heartbeat started to race, as he eagerly opened it.

Dear Godfrey, he read on, Thank you for your letter, and after careful consideration, we have decided to invite you for an interview. Enclosed is an airline ticket to fly you from London Heathrow, to Florida. We look forward to meeting you. . Godfrey was indeed excited; the furthest he has been was to Plymouth, some 10 years earlier.

His news was greeted with disbelief in the Fisherman’s Rest, by the regulars who read the letter, which Godfrey proudly had passed around. Surely, there had been some sort of mistake. Why would they want to interview Godfrey? The only interview he had attended previously, was when he was interviewed by local radio, after winning the best Marrow competition at the village show, two years earlier. Regardless, all wished him the very best on his expedition to the United States.

Before long, Godfrey was packing his bag, in preparation for his trip. The journey went well, a coach from Plymouth to London Heathrow, followed by a flight aboard a Virgin Atlantic flight to Florida. It was a great experience for Godfrey; he had not seen clouds from this direction before. He did cause some interest among cabin crew, when he asked to open the window for some fresh air.

The plane landed at Orlando Airport on time, and on clearing baggage collection, and raising a few eyebrows in Immigration, Godfrey made to the arrivals hall, where a man and a woman were waiting to pick him and drive to his hotel.

The next morning, Godfrey prepared for his interview, with N.A.S.A. officials. Opening his case, he retrieved a suit, which had been left to him by great uncle Albert in his Will. It fitted quite well, and it was ideal for an interview, Uncle Albert, had been the village undertaker, and it had been his best work suit.

It seemed that Godfrey was being given V.I.P. treatment, when a limousine arrived outside his hotel, to take him to the interview.  The Sun was shining brightly, when the car turned into the N.A.S.A base. The car came to a halt outside a large building, and Godfrey made his way through the door. Ahead of him, he could see a door marked, Interview Room, With a smartly dressed soldier, standing to one side of it. On entering the room, Godfrey was greeted by a team of military personnel seated around a large table. “Good morning Godfrey” said a man at the head of the table, “Welcome to N.A.S.A. pleased take a seat”.

“Tell me Godfrey” said the man. “What would you do if a rocket failed to launch, would you be able to get to root of the problem?” “Yes Sir” Godfrey replied, “I have many years of sorting out rocket systems”. “That’s great news” said the man. Next question, “Do you have any knowledge of solar panels?” “Yes, They are like plants, the panels are leaves, they transmit the suns energy, to create growth”. The panel were impressed, and after several other questions. Godfrey got the job. “Godfrey”, the man continued, “I know it is short notice, but we have a space mission to the International Space Station, in two weeks time. If we can arrange some basic training, would you be interested, in doing the job?” “Of course” said Godfrey I’m up for that.

Godfrey’s training went well. He passed with flying colours. Whizzing around on the centre fugal force, made him feel a little sick, but it was not too bad, the gravity test also was no problem to someone who had been used to going down Aveton Giford hill on a push bike at warp speed. In fact, he enjoyed the training so much; he volunteered to do it again, just in case he missed anything.

The morning of the space flight, was exciting for Godfrey. After enjoying the traditional breakfast of steak and eggs, he climbed into his space suit and joined the other astronauts in the space shuttle. The launch went extremely well, and it was only a short time before the shuttle, started orbiting Earth. Godfrey felt comfortable enough, and decided to take some photos through the window. Hopefully, he thought, they will come out well, when I can get them developed at the chemist on my return.

After several orbits, the shuttle edged towards the Space Station, finally docking just after lunch. Being his first flight, Godfrey was first to go aboard the Space Station. He was greeted by the Station Commander, who smiled widely, when he saw Godfrey. “Welcome, you must be our new rocket specialist”. Godfrey, carefully unzipped his space suit and  retrieved a rolled up copy of the Kingsbridge Gazette, inside of which were some green leaves. “Yes Sir” replied Godfrey.” I have been growing rocket in my greenhouse for years, here you are”.





Previous Post

Next Post