To baldly go...

A character called Dr Lewis Dartnell is claiming that space travel makes you bald, fat and ugly. I know a coded insult aimed at William Shatner when I see one. The rumour that Captain Kirk wore a wig is absolutely false – it would have had to be glued to his scalp to stay on during all the fisticuffs and jujitsu he did with recalcitrant aliens. The colour match with his eyebrows was also too exact for the dyes of that era.

There is no evidence whatever that space travel causes hair loss. The Apollo astronauts were at least as hairy during splashdown as they were during lift-off. (They were much less hairy than the space chimps, of course, but that is comparing apples with pears). I’d like to know whether the newspaper that quoted Dr Dartnell checked his credentials first. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were one of those bogus doctors who go into practice to fondle women’s breasts. In any event, the phoney pundit will probably now be deluged with hate mail from outraged trekkers. And it will serve him right.

Now Captain Picard was as bald as an egg, but that doesn’t prove anything because he was slim and handsome rather than fat and ugly. The Next Generation, it must be admitted, was superior to The Original Series in almost every particular. Picard had more gravitas than Kirk, Data out-spocked Spock, and there were two leading ladies in skin-tight lycra costumes rather than the token Miss Uhura with a gizmo stuck in her ear. The surest way of getting a friendly debate going amongst a group of men is to ask them whether they’d rather ravish Beverly Crusher or Deanna Troi. There are always strong preferences for one or the other, although the manager of the safari camp once declared that he “wouldn’t touch either of those prick teasers”.

Some humans foolishly believe that we gorillas empathise with the Klingons. Nothing could be further from the truth. As well as being prodigious meat-eaters (and presumably suffering from halitosis as a result) they are far too tense and irascible to be our kindred spirits. I feel particularly sorry for Worf, scowling away on the bridge while everyone else grooves to the pulse of the warp engines. If I were on the Enterprise, I’d try and get him to lighten up:

“Worfy baby,” I’d say, “you’ve got to lose the ‘fuck you’ attitude, which went out of fashion shortly after the death of Genghis Khan. Chill out in ‘Ten Forward’. Flirt with Whoopie Goldberg. Learn to play the guitar. Eat more fruit. That’s the way to make friends and influence people on a Federation star ship.”

But they’ll never top The Next Generation. A big part of its appeal lies in the depiction of a harmonious space community free of jealousy, intrigue and masturbation. There was no need for self-abuse on the Enterprise because of the holodeck, where the computer would generate fully functional surrogates capable of unlimited guilt-free coitus (and no risk of cooties). Instead of vainly trying to seduce Dr Crusher, a crewman could do his worst to her exact replica. How did Beverly feel about men using her simulacrum as a concubine? I don’t know, but I would hope she felt flattered.

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