REGULAR readers will know that I have a bit of a problem with the current usage of the word 'awesome'. Call me picky, grumpy, or just belligerent in a 53-year-old kind of way.
Somebody in a shop recently saw me off the premises by saying 'you have an awesome day'.
I nearly went back in and said that this was unlikely, as while Paignton is an undeniably exciting place, it is a little short on the kind of sights and events that would leave me struck down by wonder and/or excitement.
Nor indeed was I likely that day to do or say anything that might inspire fear or wonder in anyone else.
In short, it is not in any way 'awesome' that we can get together for lunch next week. The cake you just made is not awesome. Your new shoes are not awesome, although those Tuf ones you used to be able to get with compass in the heel and the animal tracks on the sole were pretty impressive.
In modern speech, the word awesome, which is supposed to describe something which roots you to the spot with its extraordinary power or beauty, now means nothing of the sort.
However, there are moments when no other word will do.
There was a full moon the other night, and as it rose out of the still waters of Tor Bay behind us, we were on our way up to Dartmoor to make the most of it.
This is something we have talked about doing for years, but have never got round to it.
Then we got chatting to Topknee and Mrs Overlights — not their real names — and it turned out to have been something they had been planning to do for years too, so we all went together.
The trouble with stargazing in Torbay is that there is just too much light pollution about. It comes from the streetlights and the late-night shops, the takeaways and the sports pitches.
It seeps into the night sky and prevents you from seeing the stars.
But head inland, away from the light clutter, and the view overhead is.....well, awesome.
It wasn't yet properly dark when we got to the top car park at Haytor, and there were still people walking around among the rocks.
Some German students were making their boisterous way back down towards the parking area while another group of people were sitting between the big stones finishing off the contents of their flasks before heading for home.
High up on the rocks a chap was abseiling, and just had time for a couple more descents before the light finally faded.
And that left just us, the Hendersons and the Overlights, standing in the flat, grassy area between the rocks as the temperature dropped and a brisk wind blew up. Topknee's decision to wear his baggy shorts seemed suddenly brave and bold.
The view from the rocks was extraordinary, and that was before we had even looked upwards.
Far away across the moors we could see the lights of Princetown and the big TV mast we had passed a few weeks ago on the Dartmoor Classic bike ride. In the dark it looked much closer than it had on that wet and windy day in June when it took hours to slog out there.
Moretonhampstead twinkled away to itself away to the right, with the big ridge of Doccombe behind it.
Exeter glowed over the top of Longdown, and then the lights came thicker and faster — Bovey, then Newton Abbot, with Teignmouth and Shaldon at the gateway to the sea, then the long straight line of Kingskerswell and then Torquay.
The red lights of another TV mast, of course, at Marldon, and then a few isolated points of light as the South Hams rolled away into the distance.
It was spectacular, and we stood for a long time watching the silver disc of the moon getting higher and leaving a trail of light across Tor Bay.
Mr and Mrs Overlights broke out the flask of home-made broccoli soup with grated cheese and croutons. Well, it was perishing cold by this point and even the brave and bold Topknee was pining for long trousers.
And then we looked upwards, and everything became genuinely awesome.
With no extraneous light apart from the moon, the stars went on for ever which, technically speaking, is what they do.
We used our mobile phone apps to check which constellations were which, and there was some involuntary humming of 'This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius' as our apps moved through that particular part of the sky.
Then we switched to another app and checked for the times of the next satellite passes. The International Space Station was first to arrive from the west, so we stood in a line on the rocks, the only people for miles around, and waited silently for it to come across.
And so it did, of course, on time to the very second and from the exact position the app had said it would. A tiny but very visible speck of light, it moved steadily across the sky.
We all hummed the 'Aquarius' thing and waved up at the space station, just in case some lonely Cosmonaut was looking down. We thought it might cheer him up.
Another satellite came back in the other direction a few minutes later, but we checked our apps and this one was unmanned, so we didn't bother waving, or singing for that matter.
But the sky above was awesome, genuinely awesome — more awesome than your new shoes, more awesome than our lunch date.
Just plain awesome. You can sing along with us if you like... 'When the moon, is in the seventh house, and Jupiter, aligns with Mars...'