1. Delighting in the Shadow of the Bomb

On 29th August 1949 the Soviet Union conducted their first nuclear test, code-named RDS-1, at the Semipalatinsk test site in modern day Kazakhstan. The device had a yield of 22 kilotons (the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 16 and 21 kilotons respectively).

That night my mother took my father out to celebrate. After a half of shandy and a small sweet sherry (my father) and copious amounts of vodka (my mother) nature took its course.

I was born nine months later on 3rd June 1950, and named Johnny in honour of my paternal grandfather.

Some explanation is probably needed here.

My father Thomas Johnson was a travelling salesman in tissue related products. He was evangelical and saw them as the road to a new Jerusalem, a utopia. I remember him saying to me “Son, people will always need to mop up a kitchen spill, wipe their behinds or blow their noses, and my dream is to ensure they do that in luxury.”

Constance Evans (nee Brunswick), my mother, ah now there is a different story. By the summer of 1949 she was a full colonel in the NKVD (forerunner of the KGB) and holder of the Order of Lenin. 

She had been at Cambridge with Guy Burgess and had a brief affair with him. It was in the aftermath of this that he become avowedly homosexual. 

It was at this time that she was recruited by Russian intelligence. During the war she worked in the private office of Clement Atlee and became his personal secretary when he became Prime Minister in 1945. It was from here that she continued to plot the downfall of the west, some may think she was successful

This only came to light when I sorted out her papers after her death and this is the first time it has been revealed.

It explains a lot about my childhood, but that is backstory!


To leaven the somewhat potentially soggy loaf of backstory I am going to intersperse this memoirs with extracts from my notes, these are the first draft of history and were the basis for many of my most famous stories.

First my investigation into one of the great conspiracy theories

…they put a man on the moon, a man on the moon…

I have been reading a book which alleges that the moon landings were faked. I find this hard to credit and have decided to try and recreate them, that will show the doubters.

17th March 1987 – In my secret base in Somerset preparing for the trip. I have discovered a vein of Cavorite in my garden.  I have used this to coat the exterior of my ship. My ship, ah she is a beauty I have named her Claire, after the lovely Claire Grogan. The body is made from two large barrels and an old water tank, the nose, for aerodynamic efficiency, I have made from the head of a swordfish and to insulate and protect myself from the cosmic rays I have lined her with oysters stuffed into rubber gloves.

18th June 1987 – Still in Somerset trying to assemble my crew. I have asked Buzz Aldrin but he has refused and is threatening to take out a restraining order. I determine I need men of stamina and drive and have recruited the Chuckle Brothers who are at a loose end. Delia Smith has asked to join us, as she has in her own words “never killed an alien”. I am slightly scared of her and say yes. We all sing the “Moon” song and try to learn the dance.

19th June 1987 – Still in Somerset, I have neglected to buy fuel. This is but a minor setback. I send Barry and Paul to buy some. Not long now!

23rd November 1987 – The Brothers have run off with my money and have accepted an offer to do Panto in Bristol, Cinderella, they are playing the ugly sisters, I must get tickets.

25th November 1987 – I recruit John Inman to replace the Chuckle Brothers

2nd December 1987 – I have converted the rocket to steam power, tomorrow is the day.

3rd December 1987– 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, LIFTOFF – We have breached the suffocating grip of Earth’s gravity and are on our way

4th December 1987 – We land, a surprisingly short flight. I test the atmosphere by sending out John Inman, he smiles, waves and makes a run for it. Taking no risks I put on my spacesuit, I have fashioned it from clingfilm, bubble wrap and pencil shavings. I only have the one, Delia Smith will need to fend for herself.

5th December 1987 – The moon looks remarkably like Wiltshire, I see something that looks like Stonehenge to the east. Some Moonmen approach us, they speak a language very similar to English, though with a strange keening lilt, Delia Smith slaughters them all.

6th December 1987 – Delia Smith left this morning. She has gone to track down John Inman. The bloodlust is upon her, which will win the blood or the lust, the killer or the woman

7th December 1987 – I see a canal, not unlike my beloved Bath-Avon canal, a moonboat drifts past, it is crewed by beautiful moonmaidens, they offer me a ride. I accept, Somerset is but a memory. I am happy. 

The remainder of my time among the moonmaidens is a blur and alas my notebooks are water damaged, the truth of what happened may never be known.

Jack Wheeler has been doing standup for 4 years and before lockdown was a quarter-finalist in the Leicester Square Theatre Sketch Off competition. He has failed to write any new jokes under lockdown and has turned to writing poetry to free his creative side.