A couple of centuries ago, on a moonlit night,two men from the village of
Bishops Canning in
Wiltshire, were busy carrying home some smuggled brandy or
moonshine, in the back of a hay cart.
As they passed the village pond, they heard the sound of an
approaching excise man. Thinking quickly, they dumped the barrels into the
pond, and began raking the surface of the water with their hay-rakes.
"What in the world bist up to?" asked the excise man
"We be a-reaking var thik thar gurt cheese",
replied one of the men
"Cassen thee see un?" added the other, pointing to the reflection of the
The excise man burst out laughing, and hurried off back to tell his
colleagues that he had seen two drunken, country bumpkins who thought
that the reflection of the moon was a cheese.
In the words of an old ballad:
"To zee thik dunder-haided coon
A-reakin atter the shadder of the moon"
After he had gone, the two men used their rakes to retrieve the brandy and
continued on their way .
Since then, Wiltshire people (my mother is one) have been known as
This story may or may not be true. A similar story is told about "The wise fools
of Gotham" (a village in Nottinghamshire), and the Tibetan story of
The Monkeys and the Moon is also smilar. apparently, versions of this story are found worldwide. A tale from Turkey associates
the foolish Nasreddin Hodja with a similar misadventure
New York was apparently nicknamed "Gotham City", by Wahington Irvine because it is "a city of fools and wiseacres".
I'm not sure why "Moonraker" was chosen for the title of a
James Bond story. On the subject of Bond, the earliest suggestion that the moon landings
might have been hoaxed, came in "Diamonds are forever", in which Bond is being pursued
through the desert, and briefly stumbles across a filmset in which actors
are dressed as astronauts. The scene was never explained, but seems to be the first glimmering of the conspiracy theory that the moon landings were hoaxed.
REM link this modern legend with the older legend of the
Man on the moon
Links to other sites on the web
Neil Sullivan's Bond Site
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