One might have thought that being a space cadet was worthy, for it requires some intelligence. It also occurs in the memoirs of the record producer Jerry Wexler: Donny Hathaway "could be funny and engaging; he could also be a space cadet". To mean eccentric or out of touch with reality, the phrase surfaced in Eighties America but derives from the Fifties telly series Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, who was one of a bunch thought to be way or far out.
"WHAT'S UP, space cadet?" The question at a Christmas party two years ago duly cost Stephen Hoggarth his life, for he asked it of David Broddle, who was found dead in his motor-car with Lorraine Richardson and suspected of sending the letter- bomb which killed Hoggarth in front of his young son.