Apollo 11

In 1962 President Kennedy announced in a speech in Houston, Texas. “We choose to go to the moon,” the president said. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

President Kennedy - We Choose to Go to the Moon
12th September 1962

As with all of humankind’s endeavors to explore and learn, the will and determination to do something must be the beginning of any success you should expect to get. The challenge was exceptional and along with the desire to make it happen, the political desire was equally as important with America wanting to win the space race to beat the Soviet Union, that had been taking all the success with the first satellite, Sputnik 1 and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

Long before Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, thousands of people had to figure out just how to do it. They had to test their theories on propulsion, guidance and life support, then test them again and again. In tragic instances, some gave their lives as in the crew of Apollo 1 and a terrible crew capsule fire. The learning’s from that fire helped with changes to the design of the final crew capsule. I’m not going to give you a history channel blog and I just wanted to share my feelings about this element of the space race. So much of the space program is well documented but I just wanted to acknowledge the great many people that were behind the astronauts and ultimately in getting humans to the Moon.

Since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by space exploration and the Apollo years. I remember having posters on my bedroom wall of the rockets, space walks and those amazing people walking on the Moon.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo’s 11’s historic landing on the Moon on the 20th July 1969 and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some Astronauts and see the rockets and equipment up close. A couple of years ago, I went to NASA in Cape Kennedy and I remember being impressed when seeing the Gemini program rocket, however nothing prepared me when I got up close to the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

NASA 2017
Space Shuttle Atlantis
NASA 2017
NASA 2017

I actually got emotional when I realised I was standing next to a real piece of space history that I had watched launch in my lifetime. I never thought I’d get that close to the orbiter and for me it was overwhelming. Later in the day I took a tour over to launch complex 39 where Apollo 11 and the later shuttle launches took place. The real treat was seeing the true epic size of the Apollo series Saturn V rocket stages.

NASA 2017
NASA 2017
NASA 2017

These engines were a real contrast to the size of the small capsule at the top where the crew traveled.

NASA 2017

The trip to NASA was a dream of a lifetime and I really didn’t want to leave. As an extra unexpected treat, the current Space X Falcon 9 Heavy rocket launched as my Virgin Atlantic flight headed back to London. Seeing the flash of the engines upon launch and then seeing the rocket rise past us at 39,000 feet was a rare and amazing experience timed purely by luck.

Many years earlier I was lucky again to meet astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I didn’t get much time to talk with him but I’ll always remember shaking the hand of the second man to walk on the Moon. I really should try to smile in pictures.

BUZZ ALDRIN & MARK OLIVER
Buzz Aldrin

I’ve always loved meeting the people I admire in films, TV or Sport and I have a fairly well stocked signed photo collection. Some of those people I meet are my hero’s that have either lived up to my expectations or been a big let down. I wouldn’t say that Buzz Aldrin was the friendliest person I’ve ever met but he did sign one of the most important images in human history for me and a prized piece of my collection. The picture Neil Armstrong took of him that became one of the most iconic of the whole mission. The refection of Armstrong in his visor and the Luna lander, ‘Eagle’ clearly visible.

BUZZ ALDRIN Signed Photo

After 50 years the space program has taken a different direction with deep space exploration being completed by drones that have explored Mars, passing Asteroids and Comets instead of humans which I personally think is a real shame. Should the technology have been available, would we have sent a drone to the undiscovered countries, instead of exploring them for ourselves? I think not. We should go and see them with our own eyes and take the risks that go along with it. I’d do it in a heart beat.

Man’s Giant leap was a long time ago and I’m please that NASA are now developing the Space Launch System for a possible manned mission to Mars. Here’s to the next leap. I just hope I get to see it in my life time.

To the Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and the men and women of NASA. Thank you for proving humans can be brave, amazing and an inspiration for us all to be better to each other and the planet we all share.

M


Thank You

Today is the 6th June 2019 and the world is remembering D-Day. Watching the memorial service on TV makes me thankful that thousands of men sacrificed and lost their lives to invade the beaches of Europe and to fight for freedom. The beaches of Normandy code-named Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, Sword Beach, Juno Beach and Gold Beach were stormed by British, Canadian and American soldiers. Ordinary and brave men that walked into a hail of enemy fire that no movie will ever truly depict.  Films like ‘The Longest day’ (1962) and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998) have done their best to give us an insight into that day. I honestly can’t imagine young men today doing their bit. The closest they and I have come to this might be playing ‘Medal of Honor’ on the PC years ago. I died very quickly but unlike those brave men they didn’t get another go by pressing the reset button. Instead another man had to push on with the battle while watching their friends die around them. Truly horrific.

It’s 75 years since that day and this will certainly be the last time the veterans will be attending any commemoration. The 60th anniversary was widely considered the last time but these men just keep living and remembering. It fills me with pride to still be able to hear their stories and experiences in their own words. Having grown up talking to family members and veterans especially around Poppy Day. I’d always take time to hear about their experiences and understand why their sacrifice was needed.  Some didn’t want to talk about it as the images and memories were so awful that remembering still hurt them. They did have one thing in common. They all considered themselves to be the lucky ones, they got to come home.

Today I was watching and listening to a man called Alf Hicks talk about filming the landing for the news and for history. At 19 years old and armed with just a revolver which he couldn’t use as he was holding and pointing his camera. He captured some rare and stark images of that day, so we can now and forever get some understanding of that time. I can’t say I’m much of a fighter but I’d have chosen that role for myself if I had to do so. Recording the images for all time in a hope that future generations understand the sacrifice given and to avoid having to do anything like ever that again. Just as important in my eyes than any gun.

It make me feel sad that the few veterans that are now in their 90’s and won’t be around much longer to tell their stories and more significantly for us to say to them, Thank You.

A Clockwork Moli for 20 Years

Since I decided to start writing my blog again, I’ve found it more difficult than before to find something interesting to write about. Maybe I need to get out more? Certainly I’ve been fairly busy with work and not had much fun stuff to share. I’ll try harder.

Recently I visited the BFI Southbank to see a screening of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971). I’ve seen the film many times at home while it was banned on a dodgy copy VHS tape and in HD when the ban was finally lifted. This screening was my first chance since 1971 to finally see it with a paying audience and on the big screen.

It’s been 20 years since Stanley Kubrick’s death and the BFI are showing a selection of his films to mark this sad anniversary and they even have the carpet from the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’ (1980)

Clockwork Orange remains one of my favorite films and still looks good and just as relevant today, I recommend that you watch it at least once.

It’s central Character Alex is played by Malcolm McDowell and I was lucky enough to talk to him about the film, working with Kubrick and to take this portrait below of him. It was amazing to meet a fellow Droog.


Also I have a 20 year anniversary. On May 10th 1999 I started working for PC World in their business centres as a Sales Manager. I am proud to say I was very successful in that role for 10 years and when the company restructured I moved into retail management which I’m still doing today.

I’ve worked in many stores around East London and Kent. I’ve worked in Superstores, Megastores and High Street stores with my current posting in Westfield, Stratford City being the busiest by far with over 50 million visitors passing through the centre last year alone. I’ve met some amazing colleagues that have kept me sane and made the past 20 years enjoyable and full of laughs. I’m very happy to still call many of them friends but sadly I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. I’ve even kept in touch with some of my old business customers too that I built lasting relationships with and one of the reasons I was successful. I always try my best to look after people and that was paid back to me in friendships. The business years got me invited to Downing Street by a client, The House of Lords, The Lord Mayors residence and many corporate Christmas parties as a thank you for being part of making their business a success as well as making a success of my own one too.

I’ve been part of two teams that have been nominated for our Chairman’s shield award and came runner up once and won the other time.

As with all jobs, we have our high points but we can also have low points, however I’ll keep this post positive and professional. We can all moan about our lives and anyone that’s driven to succeed will always be disappointed not have everything they want. Working weekends, late nights, Boxing days and having alarm call outs at 4am can be fairly testing, however we can all have good and bad days in any job but in refection my career has given me new skills, new experiences, new friendships, curve balls to surprise me, challenges to test me and I get to work with all the amazing technology that has always interested me. I was there at the introduction of the internet and the death of VHS. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

I will celebrate my anniversary on my own as I’m probably the only one that actually knows about this personal milestone. I’ll do my best to remember all the teams I’ve worked with and our adventures together.

Here’s to the future. Probably still with a plug on.

Viddy well.

M

Fire and Water

As I write this the Cathedral of Notre Dame is still smoldering after a devastating fire. Having visited Paris many times, I only visited the cathedral once as the queues to get in it are fairly epic having around 30,000 visitors per day. I’m not religious but the historic and architectural loss is heartbreaking. Coming within 30 minutes of being lost forever, the French firefighters have done an amazing job of containing the fire and giving the world a chance to rebuild. Here are my photographs from 2005 of how it used to look.

Paris 2005
Paris 2005
Paris 2005

Anyone living in London would probably agree that we take our traditions and attractions a little for granted. From time to time I try and do something on the tourist trail and always find it interesting. The last time was on my birthday when I visited and rode the Royal Mail train that used to run under London. Small doesn’t cover it but a great experience.

Something I’ve always had a vague interest in seeing is the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race. However I’ve never been that bothered enough to actually see if live. Normally the weather is bloody awful and frankly, watching two sets of very privilege people rowing boats against each other just made me resent their elitist institutions even more. This year was the 165th year of the boat race and I finally found the motivation to attend.

The Boat Race 2019
Hammersmith Bridge

I got myself alongside Hammersmith bridge and waited for the race to start. As I looked around at the fairly large crowds that were gathering, I started to realise that the race was really an excuse for a big party and of course, drinking alcohol The atmosphere was actually great and the Mungos and Ruperts weren’t too annoying. The Womens, Mens and reserve races were dominated by Cambridge university taking victory in all the races. This year the men’s Cambridge team had former olympian James Cracknall on hand to help them. Anyone using a rowing machine in the gym will know how hard it is and the amount of training and dedication needed for these men and women to compete in the race and over the distance is impressive. How they find the time to study is beyond me.

The Boat Race 2019
The Boat Race 2019
Olympic gold medallist, James Cracknell
The Boat Race 2019

The safety aspect was looked after by Chiswick RNLI that did an excellent job protecting the crowds along the riverside and with actually on the water.

The Boat Race 2019
Chiswick RNLI
The Boat Race 2019

The boat race party continued long after the races were over and I was impressed with it all. I don’t know how often I’d go along but I’m glad I did. Make the most of your local event and attractions. You can’t assume they will be around forever.

M

Northern Kittens

In the early days of the internet I remember a website called ‘Rathergood.com’ with great little films designed by Joel Veitch around the year 2000. For some reason I was think about them recently and was pleased to find that they have now been put onto Youtube as the original flash films are no longer supported. They still bring a smile to my face. Enjoy!

M

Brexit means what?

I’ve been thinking about what to write this time. I really don’t think I’ve spent any amount of time looking at Brexit and that might have been a good idea actually. Politics is a fairly emotive subject to say the least. Some people say that in polite company you should never talk about religion and politics. I’m not about to offer an opinion about the result of the referendum or the subsequent negotiations that have taken us to the agreed leave date on the 29th March 2019.

Brexit has been a national focus for our politicians, the media and the vast majority of our population. It feels to me like a national obsession that regardless of which way you decided to vote, everyone, every day since has been reading and talking about Brexit. Frankly I’ve had enough of it myself now but like most people, I just wanted to see where we end up and maybe we can move on with other important national issues that have taken a back burner. On a side note, I’ve always thought that the name, Brexit was loaded in the subconscious of the electorate to enable the leave campaign to have an advantage. It wasn’t called, BRIT-IN after all. Anyway, yesterday was deadline day after 3 years of negotiations, planning, votes and political arguments and we didn’t leave the European Union. During the referendum campaign I thought I knew what Brexit meant, however now I’m not so sure that the information given to the electorate was true and accurate. The fallout from the result has now created many difficulties which appear beyond resolution and to the satisfaction of the majority of our MP’s.

Without supporting either campaign or side of the argument, I decided to see what the area around the Houses of Parliament would be like on the big day. I noticed a big crowd gathering on TV and wondered if I’d encounter a movie like environment akin to ‘V for Vendetta’ with an angry mob, hell bent on the over throw of the government or just a peaceful demonstration demanding the vote be honored as promised for so long. However, it was neither of these things and what I witnessed disturbed me.

A found myself walking out of Westminster station and into a mob of bald headed middle aged men drinking beer from the nearby pub and singing the short version of ‘God Save the Queen’ on repeat while in the distance a big screen shows guest speakers demanding our very own Independence day with the likes of Tommy Robinson telling the crowd what they wanted to hear while they applauded and lapped up every word in between glugs of beer.

29th March 2019
29th March 2019
29th March 2019
29th March 2019
29th March 2019

Some of the crowd were holding placards demanding ‘Leave means Leave’ and ‘Brexit Betrayal’ with their anger and views being understandable given the current situation. They were exercising their democratic right to protest and we should expect nothing less. I was shocked however that among this gathering were groups of people that spent far too much time talking in terms that basically resembled, ‘England for the English’ and with all the sentiments of an English Defense League gathering. It was so uncomfortable to hear these people talking in such abhorrent terms that I had to move away from them and I wanted nothing to do with their views which should never be connected to subject of Brexit.

I walked along to Abingdon Street gardens where the media always set up for live broadcasts. The camera crews and lights had very little space between them with the worlds media finding the perfect spot for a Westminster background. I spoke briefly to broadcaster Jon Snow about the day which we both agreed was a very strange experience.

29th March 2019

I will note, that not all of the people I came into contact with were racist thugs and some had a great understanding of the subject and could articulate themselves well and why they felt the need to voice their anger and concerns. It’s my hope that more people want to be associated with those people and not the latter. My final experience as I moved back towards the station was when I met another broadcast journalist and political editor for ITV News, Robert Peston.

29th March 2019

As we started to speak, a group of angry men started calling him a BBC left wing cunt. They kept shouting at him and not giving him the chance to respond. Then came the spitting at him while the police did nothing. Shocking and disgusting. According to reports, only 5 people were arrested that day. I think the police took a very wide view on what constituted a crime that day and allowed such disgusting behavior to occur.

We are a nation that are very divided on so many levels and we have millions of individual views on what Brexit should look like. I can confirm that no longer know what Brexit means.

M

Moliblog blogging again.

Hello readers!

I’m not sure how many of you are left that used to read Moliblog. I’ve taken a long break from writing and posting my pictures and I sort of fell out of love with it all. It seems that every other blog has something to do with make-up tips and fashion or Youtube-ers that have become youth superstars with their pages earning millions and even more followers. Who really wants to read the ramblings of a white middle aged fat man? Having thought about this recently I decided that the blog was really for me to share my thoughts with myself and if others choose to read it then great but I really don’t want to get hung up on followers and stats. I’ll do my best to write on a more regular basis as I used to really enjoy it.

Here’s a catch up with me meeting the amazing Darcy Bussell at the Royal Opera house for a signing of her book Evolved,

Darcy Bussell - Evolved Signing
Moli & Darcy Bussell
Darcy Bussell - Evolved Signing
Darcey Bussell – Evolved
Darcy Bussell - Evolved Signing


Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @moliblog

Moli and the Brick Lane street art.

My search for amazing street art got a boost today with a visit to East London and the streets that surround Brick Lane. Traditionally this was a destination area for a vast multitude of curry houses and bagels but like much of London it continues to change and develop with this area now starting to fill up with trendy hot spot like bars, antique markets, specialist chocolatiers and craft stalls. Along with this obvious gentrification comes a great collection of street art. As I mentioned in a previous blog I’ve become a real fan of this art form and walking around the rough streets of E.1 and in some cases, rubble strewn alley ways I discovered not only some great creations but loads of fellow admirers doing much the same as me.

Street Art

Normally I’d be fairly concerned about heading down some unlit dodgy passageway with an expensive smartphone or camera for fear of being bludgeoned to death, however in this case I actually had to get into line if I wanted to catch a glimpse of the latest offering. The crowds were impressive and the notion of the traditional gallery is extinct in these cases as the streets become the gallery and you never know what you might find behind the every growing crowd.

I also finally managed to catch someone creating something new.

Street Art in progress

Here are my favorites from today.

M

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art - Face in the wall

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Street Art

Moli and the modern shopper.

As of today, once again, Waitrose tops the ‘Which’ poll for customer satisfaction along with M&S. The majority of my personal shopping is done at both these places and I have to say that I agree with the poll. Both companies have high standards of store design and exceptional own brand products, in particular for me M&S and the amazing runny scotch eggs that are annoyingly no longer ranged in my local store. (Can you believe that I actually have to order them in specially) The survey talks about the great customer experience from the shop staff themselves that on the whole I find welcoming and offer an excellent service. I however would love to see a survey from supermarket / retail shop staff themselves on the quality of customer behavior. I can’t see any measure for that but I would say that the level has dropped over the years.

Shopping

I’ve noticed that during the last 12 to 18 months the customers that visit my local stores have considerably reduced their courtesy levels to fellow shoppers and shop staff alike. Recently I visited Waitrose to take advantage of a meal deal. £20 for a three course meal and a bottle of wine. The experience reminded me of those scenes when a farmer delivers the feed to a pigs. A mass of knuckle scrapping animals pushing and shoving to grab a starter, main, sweet pudding and a bottle of plonk. I only wanted to see what was available but found myself being squeezed out of the way by the bigger apes. Now, I don’t know if this makes me any better than them but I actually crawled out from the food brawl, gathered myself and shouted to them, “Let me know when you fuckers are finished and I’ll come back, you selfish bastards” Clearly the red mist descended! I spoke to a member of Waitrose staff and he seem to confirm my animal theory. He said that when he fills the shelves with new produce, he kind of throws it onto the display and runs away. One time he was actually pushed off a ladder in the chaos.

Shopping

This got me thinking about the public and how they treat each other. I started to people watch and the majority of the time; London shoppers are really rude and aggressive towards each other. Walking down a busy city street is a bit like a rugby match with shoulders bashing into each other and not even a look back or a sorry/excuse me. I remember coming out of a Knightsbridge department store and stopping on the fairly quiet pavement. A woman was walking along the street towards me and chatting on her mobile phone. I noticed her from well over 100 meters away and I took no real notice of her as that’s not really an uncommon sight. However, as she got closer, she looked up from her walk to see me and then promptly continued to walk full body blow into me and pushing me right out of the way. Shocked by the experience I turned to see her continue walking along the street, talking on her phone as if I didn’t exist. I started to wonder if I was a ghost and should therefore expect people to walk through me without any awareness of my presence. Even my, “What the hell” comment was ignored. There’s rude and then there’s London shopper rude.

Has anyone else noticed this?

I’ve also noticed that when people need information from you like directions for example they just walk off once they get what they need. My parents always taught me to say thank you, so I could be more sensitive to those that don’t do the same. I just couldn’t imagine not saying, “thanks for that” or even “cheers for the help” But to spin on my heels and head off makes my really angry. It isn’t in my rule book and as they head off I often say, “Your welcome” It shows such an epic disregard to the person and sets the value of the individual well below that of the information they seek, such as the location of Argos or the nearest bank.

I’m sitting in Land Rover getting my car serviced right now, excellent service by the way, and I’ve just spoken to the receptionist about this blog post. She said that a bunch of kids that have just been into the dealership with their mother were offered a cold drink and a cake. However, when she walked off the kids then emptied the fridge of all the cans of drink into their pockets and took all the cakes while the mother watched. Great parenting!

Did it that all start with bad parenting? Is it a millennial thing? Can it be changed? Clearly not any time soon!

Please share your experiences in the comments section; I’d love to hear them. It’s clearly about time we had a human experience survey. Come on Which, I’m ready to cast my vote.

M