July 1969. Everyone’s making rockets. Kev’s made one, Bobby’s made one, Nick Cruikshank has made one. Kev’s is a Fairy Liquid bottle covered with white sticky-back plastic and the words Apollo XI written in permanent marker along the side, like he’s seen Val make on Blue Peter, with wooden forks, the kind you get at the chip shop, glued low-down to make it aerodynamic. Bobby’s is an Airfix kit he bought at the model shop on Fisherton Street, with transfers of the American flag and NASA up near the snout, while Nick Cruikshank’s is a fab one, built with Meccano, complete with a launching gantry on wheels. They’re going to have a competition in the park on Saturday afternoon, to see which one’s best. Kev asks if I’m going to bring a rocket too: I nod and race home.
I’ve already got an empty Cornflakes box, some crow’s feathers from the garden, a square of corrugated cardboard and some cocktail sticks in my bedroom drawer – they might be useful for it. I ask Mum if I can have the washing-up liquid bottle, and she says I can when it’s empty, but it’s still half-full so won’t be ready in time – I’ll have to think of something else for the body of the rocket.
By teatime, I haven’t come up with anything. By bathtime, nothing too.