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(One of those defining moments in a lifetime when anyone old enough can recall what they were doing.  We were all doing the same thing - shitting ourselves.  Its 50 year anniversary in 2012.) 



I’d never heard my mum or dad speak like that before;

“Shut up!” they shouted as we played upon the kitchen floor;

This photograph of memory will live for evermore.


An overbearing silence between us then ensues

Embarrassingly trodden on by the TV’s news -

A charge of domesticity we kids feared to defuse.


We sensed an interlinkage of the shouting and TV

For once the news had ended there settled normalcy

Apart from guilty glaring from my dad to mum and me.


I’d never heard my mum or dad speak like that before;

“Shut up!” they shouted as we played upon the kitchen floor,

Their irritation spiked by prospect of the nuclear war.

◄ Le Pere Fouettard

Father and Son ►


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M.C. Newberry

Sat 31st Dec 2011 19:38

As a teenager, I was old enough to understand what was at risk during that time when the
fear of nuclear war was palpable. I have never known anything similar since then - thank God! J.C.'s words bring the reality
close again - and it's distinctly unsettling.

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jane wilcock

Sat 31st Dec 2011 16:44

I was chosen at school to go on "Picture Box" a school TV show a few years after this and asked about my dreams on air. When I stated it was nuclear anihilation I was quickly passed over and my mum after school asked me if I was depressed so some message must have got to her. I said no, just realistic: children are like sponges, they see and hear all... and find adult explanations unsatisfactory

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Dave Bradley

Sat 31st Dec 2011 11:16

Well written, John. The continual anxiety of the Cold War is now a distant memory but was very very real at the time. We don't seem bothered now, but while Israel, North Korea and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and Iran and terrorists are trying to get them, we should be.

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Nick Coleman

Fri 30th Dec 2011 13:16

Well done you capture the sense that the natural order of things was teetering on the brink of imploding, or should I say exploding. Lets hope the computer wargame generation are reminded this 50th anniv. The Jesuits took delight in telling us we were about to die and that our parents didn't want us back home. I did experience the domestic scene you tell of, but that was at the time of Suez.

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Tommy Carroll

Fri 30th Dec 2011 11:47

We had to prey in school for something I was completely ignorant about- I was (at the time) told that 'I came from Cuba' as a resolution to 'where did I come from Dad?' :o)

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Greg Freeman

Fri 30th Dec 2011 01:06

What I remember, John, is the BBC teatime news opening with the map of Cuba for about eight days on the trot. I hadn't taken any interest in the news before that. Later you found out that it was around that time that Bob Dylan wrote A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and Masters of War. The atmosphere you capture must have been played out in so many homes; when suddenly your own living room no longer felt safe.

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