Astronaut helps us to get a perspective on our lives

Ewan McGregor  as Renton in Trainspotting - the gender neutral toilets Zella has visited are almost as grubby

ZELLA COMPTON: Men – just aim it in the right direction and we’ll all be happy!

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Perspective, so they say, is a wonderful thing.

I suppose ‘they’ mean that when you get too bogged down in the minutiae of a problem, you forget to remember what’s really important.

Going off to have a cuppa when flummoxed by a tricky issue – for me, usually mathematical – helps. As does remembering that the world won’t end if the house isn’t exactly how you’d like it four months after moving in.

But what better way to get perspective on something than to actually go into space?

I’ve been riveted by the tweets and videos from Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, who last week returned to earth after a celestial six-month tour of duty on the International Space Station.

I’ve loved seeing the pictures of Portsmouth as seen from space, as well as other places in which I’ve lived and loved – Wales, Australia, the west country to name a few.

But what has really been inspirational has been the way Cdr Hadfield has been interacting with the people back down on planet Earth.

He’s carried out experiments on behalf of people wondering what happens when you wring out a damp cloth in space.

He and his team spent a record-breaking 71 hours in one week carrying out scientific studies, they’ve sung with students and Cdr Hadfield’s goodbye video was his cover of Bowie’s Space Odyssey.

They’ve also been on space walks to carry out emergency repairs, kept the ISS in orbit, and coped with zero gravity.

And all of that while we on Earth go about our regular lives as per usual.

What’s been really telling is the huge response all of this has had from normal people on the ground, who’ve been looking at the pictures of where they live taken from space and realising that their house, their road, their place of work and their town is not the be-all and end-all.

So while we can’t take a step back into space to get a bit of perspective on our lives, sometimes there’s someone who’ll do it for us.

Welcome back to Earth the crew of Expedition 35: two Russian cosmonauts, two NASA astronauts, and Cdr Hadfield.