The Nazis, Kula Shaker and the 1999 eclipse

Not much to report today, but by Tautatis this is a daily diary, and so I shall squeeze some words out from the bottom of the toothpaste tube. If only I’d started with the words at the bottom to begin with, then we wouldn’t be in this situation.

I have spent much of the evening watching the Nazis spread across Europe, narrated by Lawrence Olivier. The World At War is available on the BBC Iplayer, and I am finding it compelling all over again. We live in pretty appalling geopolitical times, but I think we can all agree that the Nazis really took the biscuit.

Tomorrow morning sees an eclipse. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Faroe Islands it’s a full eclipse. London’s is 85%, still pretty high. The last one round these parts was 1999, as predicted by Kula Shaker in their career-ending “mystical machine gun” single.

I remember it clearly. I was in my garden in New Malden, with Alastair, who had flown back from Indonesia earlier the same day. In fact, the route of the eclipse followed Alastair across the globe, like a harbinger of unique evil. At least, this is how I remembered it at the time.

Shortly before the eclipse, we had had a Wimpy, in New Malden Wimpy, now a Korean restaurant. The waiter, nicknamed Whirlwind on account of his speedy service, was nonplussed by the imminent majestic dance of heavenly bodies. He said he’d watch it through his car’s tinted windshield.

I followed the advice of Patrick Moore and used the pinhole and piece of card technique. Soon enough an image of the moon eating into the sun was flickering its way across my bit of card. As the skies darkened and the birds fell ominously silent, I worried for Whirlwind’s burnt retinas, and whether the sun would ever appear again.

There was a moment of hysteria, pagan magnificence and some slight giggling, before the sun started to reassert its mastery. Then my grandma appeared to tell the family that a milk float had crashed into a house up the road.

We hurried up to see for ourselves. Sure enough, the float had smashed through the low garden wall, coming to rest just outside the kitchen window. Mysteriously, the driver was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he’d gone to join Kula Shaker?

I hope tomorrow’s eclipse proves similarly memorable.

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