We received an e-mail marked “private and confidential” (which somehow ended up in our mail box!) and after reading we deleted it like it said at the bottom. The message revealed that, in a grave error, the local haulage company responsible for delivering the final multi-million pound craft to the launch pad accidentally sent our Clock Tower instead, which, in turn, was sent to the Red Planet by baffled boffins.
This revelation accounts for the lack of contact with the Mars lander over the Christmas period, as the Clock Tower has only one plug socket, lots of bird crap and little in the way of communication equipment. Space egg-heads blamed the Clock's lack of time-keeping accuracy for their failure to receive a signal from the wrongly-sited 'orbiter/lander/timepiece'. Commented one: "Our systems were set to GMT, but, alas, the Tower wasn't. Never has been apparently."
Remember - A Beagle is for
life, not just for Christmas
The courier-confusion arose due to the fact that the code name for the Beagle 2 mission was "Mock Flower", due to its opening like a flower! Good one! The men who were told to collect the interplanetary craft were 'a few rocks short of a moon', thus they heard 'Clock Tower' and collected our town centerpiece last October and shipped it to the launch pad overseas.
Gavin Hooper, a spokesperson from Sort Of Speedy Transport Co, the logistics company put in charge of transporting Beagle 2 to the launch site, said to us this week: "Well me hearing's not as good as it used to be and I thought our kid said 'Clock Tower'. We're very sorry for the mix up, but we'll be sure to get it right next time."
The e-mail went on to reveal that BANES have found the elusive Beagle 2 space exploratory capsule in the storeroom at their Riverside offices, under a pile of old Keynsham & Saltford Observers! Bit of an exclusive there for our mate Hugo.
The last time the Clock Tower hit the headlines was in October 2003
, while the last time Beagle 2 made the news was most weeks since Christmas 2003. Colin Pillinger was unavailable for comment last night. His wife told us: "He's in the barn with his hand up a cow's chuff. Can he call you back later?"