My first experience of alien lifeforms came at the cinema aged five, when my Old Man took me to see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, one of the finest blockbusters ever made.
Even today, some 37 years on, I am still deeply moved by the bond between the wrinkly visitor from outer space and his schoolboy saviour Elliot. There wasn’t a pre-teen on the planet in the ‘80s who didn’t want to hide a three foot spaceman in their walk-in wardrobe, just like the film’s awkward young hero.
I was no different and, try as I might, I never did manage to get my Raleigh Grifter to take off into the moonlight - not once. But there weren’t that many flatheaded intergalactic explorers in Stockport when I was at school.
My obsession with the unexplained was no different to anybody else who was too young to have a girlfriend or have any other distraction in their lives for that matter. Back then, it seemed perfectly feasible to me that the endless Universe was home to other lifeforms and that it would not be long before we were all transported to another dimension, where we would be forced to wear smart, Buck Rogers-esque uniforms, while reading the minds of others.
But then I grew up and stopped dreaming about women only planets and little green men and focused on passing exams, paying bills and what I would be cooking for dinner that evening.
But that certainly isn’t the case for lots of grown-ups as there is a vibrant community of believers who refuse to accept that us Earthlings are on our own. One of my first assignments as a student journalist was to visit a UFO fanatic in North Yorkshire who, although he was a middle aged man who still lived with his mum, was an utterly convincing advocate for the theory that there is life ‘out there’.
Last week there was a meeting in Paris, which did not involve angry Frenchmen and women in yellow hi-vis vests, but was a gathering of like minded souls who discussed issues that span way beyond our Solar System.
This particular seminar, which is held every couple of years, examines the Fermi paradox, a seventy year old question of why, with there being so many places for aliens to appear from, have they not yet made contact with us?
Many people have many very different answers to this conundrum but two given at the aforementioned meeting in France last week have garnered plenty of media scrutiny. One delegate argued that seven and a half billion human beings might all be living in a giant zoo, where we are observed from afar by superior lifeforms, who enjoy hiding from us.
But then there is the mind blowing theory that we have already been discovered but these pioneers from another world don’t want to disturb us for fear that it would be ‘culturally disruptive’ for us to learn the truth about their existence and would, ultimately, lead to the end of civilization.
My theory is far more straightforward; if there really are such a thing as aliens, they have taken one look at world leaders such as Trump and our own beleaguered Mrs May, at the same time as logging onto the mind sapping insanity that is social media and decided that there is very little point in them making contact.
I wish they would - I need beaming up from the madness that is Planet Earth.