I find myself scouring the skies lately with my powerful contact lenses. I've begun behaving like an escaped jailbird with the law in pursuit. Fleeing prisoners panic upwards.
You've seen it on countless detective dramas - the malefactor sprints for the nearest stairs or escalator, grain-silo ladder, flat rooftop or - how clever is this? - clambers into the highest point of a haystack. Nowadays he might find a needle in it.
It seems to be our misfortune that one virus after another finds its way to our backwater amongst the stars. In terms of the universe, after all, we live in the sticks, the boondocks, the hinterland. Hicksville. Not so much the middle of nowhere as the back of beyond. As far as the Milky Way is concerned, we live in a one-horse town.
Some might say our planet was lucky in other ways - formed neither too near nor too far from the sun, a location where our star could breathe life into dust. We are stardust, folks. Being told my ancestors were fish, or even apes, I have no issue with, but specks of dust? That makes me feel slightly untidy. Especially in the presence of a dustpan.
The Fermi Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life and various high estimates of its probability, by scientists, statisticians, lunatics and Hollywood. As Enrico Fermi famously said to his lunch companions in 1950, "Where are they all?" He was possibly looking for a waiter, hoping to solve the E.T. problem in three easy bottles. His companions responded with a Great Silence. They obviously couldn't see any waiters either.
There could have been thousands of other civilisations on other faraway planets in other solar systems. It has been suggested that climate change likely spelled their doom. D-O-O-M! As they became more advanced, they burnt themselves out faster than rock stars often did. How we live is the danger, and the danger is oblivion.
We might have been invaded long ago and many times, but in galactic terms we are not a constellation devoutly to be wished. Any potential space pirates may simply have added us to their charts - 'small, round, blue' (like some old ladies exiting the hairdresser) - and put their warp engines into reverse, deciding we weren't worth the candle, or whatever power they were using to drive their star chariots, clean energy, I hope.
It is possible that someone millions of light years away is trying to contact us, but by the time it reaches us, their message is so faint that I would have more chance of picking up Radio Luxembourg on my Pye transistor radio in 1956. Some days I can't even get a proper signal for my mobile when I'm upstairs in my mansion.
A final thought. If E.T. and his fellow aliens ever do come calling, I believe we should vaccinate them as a precautionary measure, before we allow them to invade our shores. Who knows how much dust might be under the beds in a long-haul spacecraft?