“Can You Speak Venusian?”: In 1969, Sir Patrick Moore spoke with an Essex man fluent in three different space languages

By on January 10, 2016

In the early 90s, you may recall hearing about a very successful non-fiction self-help book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, authored by a relationship counselor named John Gray, the metaphor in the title suggesting that the difficulties men and women face in the bedroom and elsewhere is because each sex acts as though we are actually like beings from two differing planets, acclimated to our own but not to the other.

Gray sold a shit-ton of copies of his book, over 50 million copies and counting, and even though we didn’t read it ourselves, we were reminded of it today because, let’s face facts, it seems we’re constantly being reminded our planet is populated by people who speak a variety of languages, and sometimes that feels like there are some of us here on Earth who speak just one language, while others some speak what seems to us to be just another (foreign) language, and perhaps you’re good at reading between the lines, so you know what we’re actually saying here.

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More and more we’re constantly reminded that our difficulties in communicating with one another isn’t always a break down between between men and women and the languages we speak, but, instead, it seems like half of the planet sounds like they’re from another planet altogether. We continued mulling over that concept today and eventually we were led to this brilliant vintage clip, an excerpt from a once-a-month documentary series called “One Pair Of Eyes,” which aired on BBC2 back in 1969.

In this particular episode astronomer Sir Patrick Moore speaks with a man who shows the audience how he’s fluent in not just one, but three different extraterrestrial space languages: Venusian, Plutonian (the language spoken on Pluto, naturally, which was still considered a planet at the time and not a dwarf planet), and Krugar, the language of Krugar Planet 60 B, which we’ve learned is actually the smaller of two primary stars, located in a red dwarf binary star system orbiting through the Milky Way.

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We’re not entirely sure that this English pensior — a man named Bernard Byron, who apparently hailed from Romford, Essex — isn’t actually speaking gibberish, the language spoken on the far-off planet Gibber, but regardless of its original origin, surely the language he’s speaking provides us with some hope that one day those of us who can speak just our one language can possibly — if we apply ourselves to the task and take the time to learn and understand that there are those of us around us who speak different languages — communicate with beings from another planet.

In this particular documentary (“One Pair Of Eyes” began airing on May 6, 1967, finally ending in 1984, and focused on regular people giving their own views on a subject close to their heart), Moore tells us that his guests represent “independent thinkers,” people who “weren’t shackled by the strings of convention.”

It was a subject near and dear to his own heart, apparently, as he once wrote this: “The Independent Thinker is a genuine, well-meaning person, who is not hidebound by convention, and who is always ready to strike out on a line of his own – frequently, though not always, in the face of all the evidence.”

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Here, Moore introduces us to his multi-tongued guest wearing the gold tie, who tells us that “the languages have been a gift, sent to me from the actual people, by rays, and even at this moment, although you cannot see them, they are sending these rays down to help me.”

Moore presses Byron further: “By some mental process or some mechanical process?”

Byron tells him: “No, it’s by some mechanical process, but apart from this, I can’t tell you how it’s done.”

Moore then asks: “What about Martian?”

Byron: “Martian, I don’t know much about their language. Although I’ve heard so much about them, I’ve never been in contact with them.”

Moore: “You haven’t actually been to any other planets yourself?”

Byron: “No, not yet.”

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Byron then demonstrates the bizarre Venusian language in written form. Here’s the full episode:

The monocle-wearing Sir Patrick Moore — born Alfred Patrick Caldwell-Moore, in 1923 — was fascinated by astronomy, which developed into a lifelong passion, and he eventually became a household name in at least some of the households found in the United Kingdom, primarily known to BBC TV viewers as the host of an astronomy show, “The Sky At Night,” which made its debut in 1957, which is credited now with being the longest-running TV program with the same presenter in television history.

Moore made many public, television and radio appearances over the course of his long life, since the 1950s, and much like Carl Sagan was for U.S. TV audiences, particularly in the 80s, he became the face of all things space in the UK, and today is credited as having done more than any other to raise the profile of astronomy among the British general public.

He was also a respectful skeptic who relied on science to answer many of the questions we’ve all asked, but he also had a great sense of humor, an example of which was when he was, briefly, the finance minister for the Monster Raving Loony Party, of whom he said “They had an advantage over all the other parties, in that they knew they were loonies.”

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BBC coverage of the Apollo 11 mission in July, 1969. Patrick Moore sits on the right with James Burke (left) and Cliff Michelmore (center); BBC)

In actuality, however, Moore was essentially an eccentric amateur astronomer who wrote numerous well over 70 books (some sources say it is closer to 100), ranging from works of serious scholarship — he was particularly proud of his survey of pre-space age observations of the planet Neptune — to books for kids of all ages.

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One of those books was Can You Speak Venusian?: A Guide To Independent Thinkers (published by David & Charles, on September 19, 1972), which explored not just people speaking Venusian, but also those who espoused a wide range of outsider ideas: Creationists, Flat Earthers, Hollow Earthers, people hailing from the lost civilization of Atlantis, etc.

In the book, Bernard Byron provides for Moore an example of written Venusian (his written translation of part of Shakespeare’s Hamlet).

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Can You Speak Venusian?: A Guide To Independent Thinkers (second edition, 1977)

Here’s a tribute to Sir Patrick Moore, written by Queen’s guitarist Brian May after Moore died in December 2012, age 89.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • JasonEnzoD

    Thanks for the article. I used to have the book when I was a kid, and discovered the video a few years ago. Grew up with Patrick Moore on the TV.