With the 50-year anniversary of the moon landings being celebrated, I have heard a great deal of opinion about Neil Armstrong and the anxiety his notoriety caused him including one industry expert who then said that Buzz Aldrin had found fame easier to take. Aldrin, now 89, is certainly not a shy personality, but depression and alcoholism were no walk in the park – after walking on the moon.
Aldrin though, certainly has a love of anyone who shows an interest in exploration and adventure. When I interviewed him as co-author of Mars exploration fiction, Encounter with Tiber in 1996, for my Frank on Books radio slot on London News Radio (LBC) I was extremely lucky. My recording slot was at midnight, the end of a long day. No one really thought that the great man would show. Nevertheless, worn out presenters hung around that station just in case.
When the Marsguy limo rolled smoothly into the parking bay, I was suddenly a real person at the station, not a late-night filler voice who turned up with his bookish hobby once a week. Buzz took the mic and we started recording. We chatted well into the small hours. Keeping him on topic – ‘Encounter’- was tough. The premise of my show was to talk about the celebrity as author, not the things that made them famous. But Buzz was happy to obsess about the moon, and he fully expected it. He brought up all the awkward stuff too, without me asking a single question about it – the psychological after-effects of reaching such a height and the literal bumping down to earth again.
When I finally hit stop, I felt tired and elated and my colleagues, normally too cool for school, bustled in for autographs. Buzz Aldrin wasn’t an A-Lister, he was so much more. He was actually moon dust, the personification of something beyond our horizons.
Our interview was 13 years ago and seems like a blink. If anyone knows how time flies it is certainly Buzz Aldrin.