Tomorrow there’s a partial solar eclipse happening over Great Britain! It’s been about sixteen years since I witnessed the last one, but I remember it clearly. (You can see one of the grainy photos I took of it, above.) The oddest thing was the birds falling silent as the sky darkened, as if they were waiting for the world to end. Even in our modern, supposedly civilised age the disappearance of our sun can have a profound and terrifying affect on us as well as animals.
It seems that no matter how many times we’re told the logical explanation for such events there’s still some primal part of us that wants to scream at the sky and beg for mercy. A quick browse round the internet shows how ingrained this fear is.
But apart from the danger to our eyesight (and maybe some issues with power supply due to our increasing reliance on solar power generation) there is little to fear from this natural, if rare, occurrence. (Solar eclipse 2015: what you need to know)
But as a storyteller I find our reactions fascinating. We collectively hold our breath, waiting for the sun to return again. Crowds even cheer as the skies brighten! But what would we do if the eclipse didn’t end? How would we react if the darkness stayed with us? How quickly would we all scream at the sky? That primal fear, hidden just beneath the veneer of our education and culture, is what I’ve explored in my new book, The Death of Goldilocks. I think we’re all a lot more primitive than we might like to think. So tomorrow I’ll be watching the sky – and our human reactions – with keen interest.