Humans of Brighton – Bobby the Astronaut

"I’d like to invent a spaceship and I’d like to go up there, and build it myself and go off into space..."

Humans of Brighton - Bobby. Photo by Marc Kis

On the corner of North Street and King’s Place I noticed a large shining red coat, that looked like a space suit, hunched over a leaning bicycle – there I saw Bobby tending quietly to a padlock. Bobby frequently smiled warmly as he spoke to me about his astral-dream.

I’m Bobby, Bobby Harkess

What do you want out of life? Oo, which one do you want, the pie in the sky or the realistic one?

Both! Pie in the sky: I’d like to invent a spaceship and I’d like to go up there, and build it myself and go off into space and do lots of funky, out-there stuff. That’s the pie in the sky, that is. If it happens I’ll be amazed, but I’m not looking… I’m gonna try but…

Where would you like to go the most in that spaceship? Just outside our solar system, just outside, there are so many things in our galaxy, or even in our universe, I’d just like to be able to see more than just our little ball of Earth.

And the more realistic one? The more realistic one is just the normal thing: being able to have a nice happy family, to see the grandkids grow up and things like that, just normal realistic stuff. I’m not a money person but I just want to be happy, and just raise another generation and get on nice and well.

I hope the planet’s still around, I hope people are still around as well, ‘cus there might be issues with the way things are going on. So, yeah, just be happy, be good, and yeah – raise the next generation.

How long have you been around in Brighton? Haha, twenty… twenty-five years?

And what attracted you to Brighton? Errm, my Dad actually came down here because we grew up in Glasgow… he got a job in London so we moved down here.

What was your father’s job? Desktop publisher. He used to be a printer but he came down to do some printing in London, but he moved into Desktop publishing. So that’s what moved us down to the South Coast.

And what do you do yourself? I was a sales manager, it’s good money, yeah the people are great but it’s just… it’s quite stressful, it’s not the most relaxing environment in the world.

So now I’m training-I’ve just retrained-I’ve just done a degree in computer science.

I used to tinker around with computers and games when I was small, and one of my big regrets – I’m a very goal orientated person and I’ve got a big bucket list that I want to try and do: it’s not just the pie in the sky bucket list, but the realistic bucket list, and one of the goals on that bucket list that I started when I was small was to build computer games and things like that.

A game for the grandkids? Umm, well yeah create something for the kids that they’ll use, but I’d just be happy – at the end of the day I’m doing it because I want to do it, not because I want to make money, but something I want to do.

If people like it – brilliant – that’s fantastic, that would be a vindication of me, and who I am if people like it, yeah great but I’m not doing anything to make money.

Money’s just, money is necessary to survive but it’s not what makes, in my mind, not what makes the world go round; it helps, but it’s not in my mind what makes a happy life.

Obviously, you need it to survive in a society, it helps, but it’s not the be all and end all. There’s more to life than money.

Did the computer science degree go into how to make games? Well, yeah but it’s something I’ve been doing since I was small anyway. The first computer programme I started making when I was about six or eight? Eight.

And yeah the computer science degree it’s a games and multimedia environment so it’s all about using videos and games and things like that and basically user interface stuff. So yeah, getting there.

Leaning against the standing unlit lamppost, I watched as Bobby tugged at two ends of the heavy-looking chain that hugged his bike – I thought I heard the clicking of the key in the padlock, even if the sound did melt into the busy noise of the blurring street traffic passing beside us.

 Words, photo and interview by Marc Kis

 

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