Monday, 5 September 2022

Celebrity Jukebox #31: Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke was, according to the intro to his popular TV shows, the "author of 2001 and inventor of the communications satellite". The former claim is irrefutable. Clarke did write the book that the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey was based on, along with its sequel, 2010, and many more science fiction novels. And of course, in creating his Space Odyssey, he influenced a certain Mr. David Jones...

David Bowie - Space Oddity

Imagine the far flung future of the year 2001... who knows what things will be like then? Well, there'll be monkeys everywhere, and computers that won't open the door for you. That's about all I can remember from that movie. Or the year 2001, to be honest.    

I smashed your phone tonight, oh joy
The consequences will reverberate
Until eternity I'm told
I smashed your phone tonight oh joy

I smashed your phone
Outside Yordas Cave
I smashed your phone
Splintering fragments
Like in an Arthur C. Clarke

Blancmange - I Smashed Your Phone

As to that second claim, about the satellite... well, I'd take that one with a grain of salt. Google "inventor of the communications satellite" and you'll find Clarke's pal John Robinson Pierce taking the credit, although with a little more digging you might discover that Clarke suggested the concept in a lecture that JRP attended. Clarke later said, "I'm often asked why I didn't try to patent the idea of a communications satellite. My answer is always, 'A patent is really a licence to be sued.'" Still, I suppose you can afford the lawyers by that point, Arthur.

Magic is the art of influencing the course
Of events by the intervention
Of spiritual forces or some other occult device.

According to Arthur C. Clarke
Any sufficiently advanced technology
Is indistinguishable from magic.

I was never a fan of 2001, book or film, but I was an acolyte of Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World and its sequel, World of Strange Powers, two TV shows that ran throughout my childhood and informed much of my belief system. UFOs? Yep. Nessie? Absolutely. Big Foot... that video is incontrovertible proof in my mind. (A former colleague of mind practiced for ages until he'd perfected the "Big Foot Walk". He would saunter across the sales office, pause to look back, then continue on his way. But he wasn't as convincing as the real thing.)

I take my coffee black
I love Arthur C. Clarke
I'm more than what I lack
I'm ready to start

Every day I get lost in the thoughts
That haunt my head when I wake up
Did I sleep through the only years I have
For a future I don't?

The intro to Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World informed us that the author was pondering these mysteries "in retreat in Sri Lanka", which always sounded a bit dodgy (especially when allegations were made about him in the UK tabloids, which were later proved untrue). However, it turns out the real reason he chose to spend his retirement there was that he was a big fan of scuba diving. 

Who'd have thought Arthur C. Clarke would appear in so many pop records? And that's before we even get to the ones that feature his name in the title...

The Aardvarks - Arthur C. Clarke

Taro - Arthur C. Clarke

But it's Neil Hannon who takes pride of place today. Being just 18 months older than me, and by his own admission, a child who didn't go out much in the 70s, it's no surprise that Neil and I ended up watching the same TV shows. The only difference being, he turned that experience into an amazing pop song. I turned it into this blog post. I think Neil's ahead on points.

Do you remember that old TV show?
'Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World'
Well, if ITV make a new series
They ought to come take a look at my girl

I don't understand her
She doesn't make any sense to me
I don't understand her
It's like she's speaking in Swahili


  1. Arthur C Clarke.........a man who writes in the dark.

    1. I had to check that wasn't a line from John Kettley Is A Weatherman...

  2. In a very out of character move, my Dad took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was very young, too young probably. Unsurprisingly it freaked the bejesus out of me. Looking back I've no idea why he wanted to see the film himself, as science fiction wasn't really his thing at all. I enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World much more, though of course by then I was a strapping 20 year-old in a near permanent state of inebriation.

    1. My mum took me and a friend to see Blade Runner when we were much too young. They wouldn't let us in the cinema. "I'll cover their eyes if there's anything I don't think they should see," she said.

      They still wouldn't let us in, but I'm convinced my mum inadvertently invented the 12A rating...


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