The Thing Is with Steve Canavan - March 26, 2015

Pupils from St Chad's Catholic Primary School in Whittle-le-Woods watching the eclipse through their safety glasses
Pupils from St Chad's Catholic Primary School in Whittle-le-Woods watching the eclipse through their safety glasses
Share this article
Have your say

I do hope you joined in the excitement of the eclipse last week?

I thought it was absolutely thrilling.

Given all the hype about it being a once-in-a-lifetime experience (despite the fact that the next one in this country is in 11 years time, August 2026 - on a Wednesday in case you want to stick it in your diary), I woke stupidly early (9am) and went outside.

I looked in a south-easterly direction and, heeding the advice of a fella I’d heard on the news, held a colander in front of my face so as not as to be blinded by looking directly at the sun.

Unfortunately Mrs Canavan had used the colander the previous night to drain the mashed potato, so my view was slightly obscured, but no matter.

So there I stood, in my pyjamas, colander in hand, in the middle of the street, in St Annes.

I thought I’d be one of a huge crowd of eclipse-watchers, but oddly there was no one one else around. Instead I just got a lot of funny looks from passing car drivers. I didn’t care, it was they who were missing out.

The clock ticked on to half nine, and then eclipse moment - 9.35am.

‘Here we go’ I thought, wiping mash off my colander, ‘brace yourself’.

Then a strange thing happened, namely absolutely nothing.

The sky continued to be filled with clouds. It may have got slightly more gloomy for a second or two, possibly, but that aside, nothing.

Angrily hurling the colander into the nearest privet hedge, I marched moodily back inside - but thankfully the BBC were there to rescue the day.

They were broadcasting an hour-long programme called Stargazing Live, all about the eclipse.

Hosted by Dara O’Briain (an Irish chap who I’m sure used to be a comedian so goodness know how he’s ended up talking about astronomy) and everyone’s favourite science type-bloke Professor Brian Cox.

They were at Jodrell Bank surrounded by a small crowd of onlookers, most of whom appeared to be bearded men in anoraks.

“We were surprised by the brightness of Bailey’s Beads,” Cox was saying as I switched on, “and the diamond ring was sensational.”

Were they talking about the eclipse or describing their local H Samuel?

“We have seen astronomy in action - an eclipse is the one moment you feel as though you are on the ball of rock that is our planet,” enthused Cox. “You usually don’t get that sense of how quick everything is moving around. It is remarkable, extraordinary.”

Not from where I was standing. It was just, well, cloudy.

Then they cut to reporter Chris Holland on the Faroe Islands, the best place to see the eclipse. Or so they’d been told.

Chris looked a little glum. “Erm, unfortunately it’s very, very cloudy here,” he said forlornly. I nodded along sympathetically.

No matter. The Beeb had yet another reporter, this one based, for reasons unknown, in a school playground in Leicester.

“It has been fantastic, you didn’t need a thermometer to feel that temperature change”, the reporter said, ignoring the fact that it was the sun we wanted to see, not just to feel it getting a tad colder. You can do that by opening the fridge door.

Then she spoke to an expert who revealed that he and his team had sent a balloon into the sky earlier in the day to get some thrilling pictures of the eclipse from above the clouds.

He very carefully explained how it worked. “The balloon has a computer attached to it and on top a small camera that takes photographs and sends them to the ground.” Fantastic, said the reporter. “Yes,” said the expert, “but, erm, unfortunately it isn’t working and we weren’t able to get those pictures”.

Awkward silence.

But hang on, the BBC weren’t going to be beaten. They had thought of everything, putting a reporter called Liz Bonnin on a plane, way up in the sky - and, finally, success ... she (or more accurately, the cameraman with her) had captured the moment.

And it was, admittedly, beautiful.

“This is extraordinary. I never thought it was going to be quite this moving,” said reporter Liz on the plane, who, disappointingly, wasn’t sipping a pina colada and buying duty-free. “We have used every adjective under the sun - pardon the pun - but it has been incredible and really emotional for me, quite remarkable.”

She was right, it was impressive, though a pity you had to be sat on a plane to see it.

Still, there are other opportunities to witness one.

The next full eclipse is in America in 2017, then there’s one in Antarctica in 2022, and - for the very patient - Egypt in 2027.

And for those who really want to plan ahead there is, the BBC told us, a book available listing every eclipse due to occur over the next 485 years - handy in case you want to buy it for your great-great-great-great-great-great grandchild.

A wonderful moment then that eclipse, just not in St Annes.

Change of ownership may be answer

I’ve tried to avoid mentioning Blackpool FC in this column, mainly because it’s too depressing.

It is incredibly sad to see the plight of a club that became everyone’s second favourite team in the Premier League, playing a brand of attacking football that at one stage midway through the season took them to within four points of the Champions League places.

Fast forward four years, to the woeful football now on offer, played on a pitch not fit for an under-10s side, in front of a threadbare crowd, and the fact they were flying so high so recently seems hard to believe.

As a former Blackpool FC writer on this paper, I used to defend Karl Oyston when he was criticised by fans.

I can no longer do that for what has happened to the club over the last nine months is simply indefensible.

I don’t understand what the owners are trying to do.

I don’t understand why, in the current terrible situation, a chairman would laugh at fans from the directors box, as if happy with how things have turned out.

The whole situation is just a sorry, sorry mess and if the Oyston family are not going to make a proper attempt to sort out the club over the summer and invest in its future, then they should do the decent thing - leave and let someone else have a go.