When The Wind Blows

My childhood in the shadow of Armageddon

I was born in 1975. This meant my formative childhood years hit exactly in the mid-80s, the peak of Cold War paranoia.

It seemed to my 9-year-old self that every day nuclear Armageddon become more of an inevitability as Russian (baddies) and American (goodies) fingers hovered over the big red button.

For some stupid reason I watched the film Threads, and Raymond Briggs’ phenomenally depressing When The Wind Blows. I remember watching Protect and Survive (the sight/sound of which still sends me into paroxysms of anxiety), perhaps at school, perhaps not. Memory is a funny thing.

Melting milkbottles. Stacking up doors. Diving under desks. A visual of a mushroom cloud on the horizon, usually over Woodthorpe Primary School. That lady pissing herself out of sheer terror.

Then there was Chernobyl. More nuclear horror, fallout, radiation, grinding Geiger counters. Why should you never buy Russian underpants?

As time went on and the Cold War melted, and Gorbachev appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial, things seemed calmer, but the damage was done. Like the shadow of a nuclear blast, my psyche was forever imprinted.

Now, America and the bad Korea are going at it on Twitter. The fingers are out again, and so are the buttons. The only difference is – now, I don’t care.

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