Perception and reality, truth and falsehood, black and white; nowadays the salivating chattering classes don’t know their arse from a hole in the ground, as they used to say in Brooklyn before the yuppies moved in. Take, for example, the latest kerfuffle about the moon landing 49 years ago. I remember it well because it was summer, I had just acquired my first sailing boat —thanks to good old dad, naturally — and the Americans, under the great president Richard Nixon, were going to land and walk on the moon. As everyone but a few doubters knows, Neil Armstrong was the first to take a step on its cheesy-looking surface, but I have bad news for you loyal readers.
First, though, the movie: First Man stars Ryan Gosling, an extremely good actor whom our very own Deborah Ross once described as unable to play Taki as well as Taki can. Hear, hear! Gosling, Alec Baldwin and I starred in the greatest movie ever made, Seduced and Abandoned, shown in Cannes back in 2013 and brilliantly reviewed by Debbie (she failed to advise our readers that if they glanced down at their bag of popcorn, they’d miss yours truly, but never mind). This new flick has caused some controversy because Armstrong and Aldrin are not shown saluting Old Glory, which they had raised on the moon. Again, never mind. A much bigger lie — one that only I am aware of — is the one that has Neil Armstrong announcing a giant step for mankind.
He never uttered those words, and that’s been confirmed to me by his cousin Nigel Armstrong, a tennis coach — who does not signal, incidentally — living in Yorkshire. What Neil Armstrong actually said was ‘a giant step for Manny Klein’. Who the hell is Manny Klein, you may ask. Well, although some in Houston had already begun to doubt the mankind version, Nigel knew the reason why Neil said ‘Manny Klein’.
Here’s Neil talking to Nigel: ‘I had been to high school with a guy called Manny Klein, whom I hardly knew. But once I went to the Air Force Academy and became an astronaut, I began to receive holiday and good wishes cards from him. He then asked me to be best man at his wedding, something that surprised me as I didn’t know him that well. He nevertheless sent a driver and a car to ferry me over to the country club where the Jewish ceremony took place and where he had kept a large suite for me to spend the night.
‘The next morning I waited for him to show up so that I could thank him, but found him in the bar looking worse for wear. Things had obviously not worked out, so I asked him if there was anything I could do. “Nah — thanks for standing up for me, but nah. All I did was ask her for a blowjob, and she threw me out of bed and told me not until a man walks on the moon.” So as I was about to take the first step, I thought of Manny Klein and said so to myself. It was an inside joke, and Houston changed it, but that’s what I said.’ End of story.
See what I mean about perception and reality? The next true story has to do with me, and I hope no one will be offended, especially anyone Catholic, the religion I love and worship more than any other Christian belief. I walked into the first-class cabin of a European airline that will remain nameless and to my great thrill and amazement the Holy Father was already seated in the front row. I bowed my head and offered to give up my seat in order to make his Holiness more comfortable, but he insisted I do no such thing but sit back and relax. His assistants and a couple of cardinals were also seated around me, and once the plane was airborne I began to relax. Flying with the Holy Father has to be the safest way to fly, so before long I began hitting the drinks rather hard. The hostesses were very polite but I began to detect worry lines on their faces. I also noticed that his Holiness had put the papal papers aside and was doing a crossword puzzle. He was using a pencil and from what I could tell he was having no difficulty completing it.
Suddenly the Holy Father turned — I was in the row behind him — and addressed me: ‘My child, do you know a word that ends with U-N-T?’ My blood froze and I remained speechless. The word that first came into my disgusting brain would ensure that I spent an eternity in boiling hell. What to do, what to do? I started to sweat. By now the booze had begun to cloud everything. I begged the Almighty for some inspiration, and — bingo — it hit me like a ton of bricks. ‘Aunt, Aunt, your Holiness,’ I practically shouted. He beamed a beatific smile and thanked me. He then turned again and asked: ‘Do you by any chance have an eraser?’