How we met: Patrick Moore & Norris McWhirter

Patrick Moore was born in Middlesex in 1923. He is an astronomer, composer and writer, and for 42 years has presented the 'The Sky At Night' for the BBC. In 1982 the minor planet number 2602 was named after him, and in 1988 he was awarded the CBE. He owns his own observatory, and shares his house in Selsey, Sussex, with his teenage godson

Norris McWhirter was born in London in 1925. He is the founding editor of the 'Guinness Book of Records', MD of Guinness Publishing and was the co-presenter of 'Record Breakers' for 23 years. He represented Great Britain at athletics, and chairs the Freedom Association. He has two children and lives with his second wife, Tessa, in Wiltshire

PATRICK MOORE: I first met Norris when we were filming the television programme Record Breakers - many years ago now, because that's been going on for almost as long as The Sky at Night.

This one was an edition about Clyde Tonbaugh, and afterwards Norris asked me to write a book about it, which turned into the Guinness Book of Astronomy. At that first meeting he struck me as someone on completely the same wavelength as me. And it turned out that I was right. As we got to know each other I found he had very similar views. I think that's the best way I can explain it, that we're on the same wavelength. We've remained in close touch ever since and see each other when we can, although mainly we correspond by letter and phone.

We're both members of the United Kingdom Independence Party, which will be a force in British politics I think, and the Freedom Party, which we laid the cornerstone of - Norris is the chairman. I regard Norris as rather left-wing actually. But then, as far as I'm concerned, Enoch Powell was Britain's most dangerous left-winger!

Norris is one of these people who are prepared to stand up and be counted. He believes passionately in Britain, as I do; we don't want to see it submerged or taken over. And he's one of the few people in the public eye prepared to say what he thinks. That's why he'll never be a politician! I'd like to think I'm the same but I've got a far lower profile than he has.

So together we are trying to save the Britain that we've had for the last thousand years, and I have great admiration for that. There aren't enough dedicated people like him who are prepared to speak out and not worry about being politically incorrect, but Norris and I are both politically incorrect.

With a friend like Norris, I feel almost like I can see into his mind. I know how he thinks. And he's got a very, very good brain, far better than mine, and he's a first-class organiser. Although I probably know more about the moon than he does. And I'm a better bowler than him. Just don't ask about my batting.

NORRIS McWHIRTER: I met Patrick in 1972, when I did a segment about Pluto, the most recently discovered planet, with the American who'd discovered it, and Patrick, who was a friend of his. Then I commissioned him to write the Guinness Book of Astronomy Facts and Feats, an amazing book that had at least six editions. I didn't work with him particularly closely on that, but he used to come to all our launches.

My first impression was of how fast he speaks and then of how genial he is. He's also very eccentric. We live in an age with very few eccentrics, but he is one. He used to live alone in his big old house in Selsey, but now his godson lives in the house along with his fiancee, and they have a dog, so he has better company now. He used to have a marvellous old housekeeper who lived to 90; his mother lived to 94, and their cat lived to 19, so it's a great place for longevity.

He's a member of his local village cricket team - he says he's a medium- paced bowler, but I think slow- medium is generous. But in golf, he has the local club record of 231, including a memorable 43 on the third hole. He also used to have a marvellous reinforced bicycle - he must weigh 20 stone. And he works on a typewriter that is dated 1908.

He's a consummate author. He's so meticulous and works so hard and honours deadlines, which a lot of authors these days never do. He's definitely increased my enthusiasm for astronomy - he's so infectious. He's also that very rare thing, a populariser of a subject who is also greatly respected by the professionals. He's been the sole presenter of The Sky at Night for 42 years - it's a world record. He's having an operation on his knee this week so he'll do one episode the day before he goes in, and the next on crutches. He wouldn't let anything like that get in the way of his programme.

He did a wonderful one-man concert at the Theatre Royal in Bath, combining music and astronomy. The combination of astronomer and xylophone player is quite surprising. He played 21 pieces of music, 19 he composed himself - tremendously thumping, hearty military pieces. And he'd talk about astronomy and slip in naughty things, like about his new club, Halley's Club (after the comet). It's a very singular club, he said, no rules, no subscriptions, no aims or objects, in fact you could call it the second most useless club in the world. Then he added, after the European parliament of course.

His dislike of Europe and Brussels is based on the simple view that you ought to be ruled by people you can dismiss. We went to a Eurosceptic meeting in Chichester recently, and he was marvellously uninhibited and said exactly what he felt. On the whole, we share very similar views, although Patrick's passionately opposed to fox-hunting (so much so that he cancelled his subscription to the Telegraph).

He goes to immense lengths to encourage and help people who are in trouble. I remember a time we met up in Cambridge and he nipped off to the hospital. It turned out it was to visit a young teenager who had cancer. He's not young or even very mobile now but he's got a tremendous sense of duty and charity. I think being a bachelor means he has a lot left to give.

He enjoys life, mainly because he has such a passion, and has been able to turn it into a profession. I think I've done a similar thing. I'd like to be able to spend even more time with him - he knows so much. We met up a couple of weeks ago and he was telling me all about someone who claimed to have discovered an English inventor who invented the telescope.

'Norris McWhirter's Book of Millennium Records' is published on 21 October (Virgin, pounds 20). 'Patrick Moore on Mars' was published last month (Seven Dials, pounds 10.99)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum