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Older people ask me why my generation's apathetic. I say "We're just pleased to be here because adult life's so unexpected, because we grew up in the Cold War convinced that we would die." When you're fourteen air-raid warnings prey upon your mind.
At school one day a plane flew by and passed so fast and loud that we looked up expecting we would see a mushroom cloud. We grew up in the Cold War, when everybody said, all we'd was die in our sweat-soaked teenage beds.
Our parents had a week with Cuba, but we had Ronald Reagan, Thatcher, "Threads", "When the Wind Blows", "The Day After" and Cruise at Greenham Common. We grew up in the Cold War, future brighter than the sun. What's the point in revising for exams that will never come?
Did you have a shelter? Did you read "Protect and Survive"? Did you hear your parents discussing whether they'd want you to stay alive? Did you wonder what would become of you, and what would become of your friends, hiding in the dark beneath the stairs when the world ends?
Well, my younger brothers and my littler sister are much better off now. They're not that aware of world affairs since before the wall came down, because they grew up since the Cold War, and they need never know the fear we felt when we were growing up ten years ago. We grew up since the Cold War.
Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing
I grew up in Peterborough which was within easy reach of the first half second of a nuclear blast on any of the many American bases in the area. Thus, neatly coinciding with me adolescing, the local paper was packed with diagrams of how quick we'd die, the telly was showing helpful dramatisations of the effects, and of course Reagan and Thatcher were just hitting their stride. It was horrible. Something like 80% of people believed they'd be killed in a war, and i was one of them. I had nightmares for months, every night. One time we were camping, i was woken by a massive thunderbolt, and opened my eyes to see the light of a lightning flash on the tent, and was convinced that was it. Another i heard a motorbike starting up - or was it an air raid siren? That day Ronald Reagan said "my fellow Americans, i am pleased to announce that the bombing of Russia has commenced" as a "joke", unaware of the effect of teenagers in the fens.
I think that's why the fall of the Berlin Wall meant so much to people my age. The weekend after it happened, and we were starting to understand what it meant, i was helping out on a Fancy Dress Pub Crawl, and one pair of people came dressed as the Berlin Wall - you should have seen the smile they got, it was wonderful. I had a poster of a Lego Berlin Wall being brought down, and thousands of lego people breaking through, which i loved.
So, we all forgot about it, it seemed, and it was only when The Rock And Roll years showed the footage of the time that i realised how close we'd come, and i started talking to it with some of my friends, several of whom had felt the same, though we'd never spoken about it. Fair enough, i guess, it wasn't a pleasant thing to think about it. Then i had a chat with my boss one afternoon, after he'd complained about The Youth Of Today not being politically active, and i started to think that, maybe, the fact the we really did believe we had No Future, and had never planned for anything, that only now could we start enjoying ourselves in what, for all intents and purposes, was time we never really thought we'd have.
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