The Third Leader: A night to remember

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The Independent Online

Did you catch the moon last night? Big, or what? Enormous. A giant, shining silver sphere. And, as you gazed up, did you think, very interesting, that's an optical illusion resulting from the coincidence of the solstice with the full moon at its lowest point in the 18.6 year cycle? Or did you have a primal Rider Haggardish moment of awe tinged with a touch of foreboding not helped by that hair-raising howl from what must surely have been the dog down the road?

Did you catch the moon last night? Big, or what? Enormous. A giant, shining silver sphere. And, as you gazed up, did you think, very interesting, that's an optical illusion resulting from the coincidence of the solstice with the full moon at its lowest point in the 18.6 year cycle? Or did you have a primal Rider Haggardish moment of awe tinged with a touch of foreboding not helped by that hair-raising howl from what must surely have been the dog down the road?

If the first, congratulations: you are one of the higher evolved, deserving of the envy of the rest of us. In fact, you're probably in the Government. And, reluctant though I am to lose a reader, I think you'd be far better off among the sophisticated analyses above. Down here, we are going to consider what on earth made Dean Martin think it looked like a big pizza pie. Sorry? Oh, yes, of course.

And nomenclature. That up there is the Honey Moon. Indeed: honeymoon, the solstice being the marrying time. This explains why the moon figures so largely in the language and imagery of romance, along with being outside, having a flattering light, and rhyming with lots of other words, including June.

How big? Well, the Chinese princess in the fable thought it the size of the thumbnail she could hold up and cover it with. Smile, but not too much: scientists still cannot explain exactly how last night's optical illusion works, the kind of ignorance which we lower evolved secretly enjoy very much.

I notice, too, that an astrologer is predicting that this moon will see the real truth about the invasion of Iraq revealed, but that is clearly fanciful.

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