Donald MacInnes: It's not asking for the Moon if you get paid in old newspapers


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The Independent Online

Excuse my beginning with such a personal question, but are you worth your salary? You certainly don't need to answer, but I only ask because of two things which happened this week. The first was that, due to a piece I wrote a few weeks ago bemoaning the lack of spending on the US space programme, I was offered the chance to interview an actual Apollo astronaut; someone who has walked on the Moon.

Look out for my conversation with Charles Duke in this paper at a later date.

Anyway, in preparing for that interview – and in the spirit of "it takes a village to raise a child" – I decided to ask a few friends if they had any questions they wanted me to put to such a genuinely heroic adventurer. One which cropped up often was: "How much did you get paid to walk on the Moon?"

I shan't be asking Mr Duke this, as I am almost certain when he was saluting the flag on the lunar surface, he wasn't thinking: "Is it pay day today? Oh gee, do I need us to get paid today! If the 30th falls on a Sunday, we usually get paid on the Friday, right?"

Anyway, given my rant about the fiscal strangling of Nasa, you'll guess I don't care how much Mr Duke was paid.

The second thing which happened this week to trigger this rumination on salaries was a tweet I received from – well, let's just call him a non-fan. On Monday, I wrote a column about trying to buy a new laptop.

It was a light-hearted, (supposedly) funny bit of rubbish which was not meant to trouble anyone. However, the aforementioned tweeter accused me of being an overpaid, sneering intellectual with nothing to say. Firstly, I will hold my hands up to the last part of his comment. As I have admitted repeatedly in this and other columns, you've come to the wrong place if you expect me to extrapolate the impact of this week's events in Westminster or ponder "What Next for the Arab Spring?" This is the Gag Department. They don't call me The Earl of Puerile Flippancy for nothing. Just be grateful the personal finance editor cuts out all the jokes about bogeys.

But "sneering intellectual"? I only sneer if my girlfriend suggests we have a salad for dinner and I'd sooner watch Noddy than Newsnight. As far as me being "overpaid" goes, if I told you that I get paid in old newspapers, which I lug home to fashion into papier-mâché sculptures to sell on eBay for a tiny profit, would you believe me?

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