It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good

Dear Blog Readers

I am still on me olidee. It’s bloomin’ ‘ot. Yesterday we went beach combing on the Thames and I found some Norman pottery shards, which I appreciate is like Time Team finding a lot of low walls, but it made me happy.

Love from Mrs. Boo

In the real world things are going from bad to worse. I may as well scrap the idea of having a nice Mini for my next car, and start looking at the efficiency ratings of the hand cart versus the tumbril, because it looks like we’re going to hell one way or the other and I might as well get it done quickly.

It did not surprise me therefore, when the government voted overwhelmingly to renew Trident yesterday.

My husband is of the opinion that our country needs strong defences and that Trident can be part of that. He is sanguine about Trident and thinks it is practical, particularly given that we have just pissed off three quarters of the known world, and the quarter we haven’t pissed off likes to collect weapons like other people collect Panini football stickers.

We have not fallen out about our difference of opinion. But I disagree with him.

I grew up in the Seventies, which was mostly brown and burnt orange, with lumps of desiccating dog pooh, a penchant for racist comedy, American tan tights and a competition to see who could nuke each other the fastest. It was not a happy time.

It was followed (surprisingly) by the Eighties which was mostly neon pink, with a penchant for leg warmers, phones the size of house bricks, Findus Crispy Pancakes, and a competition to see who could nuke each other the fastest.

It was marginally better, but only because I was able to drink by the end of the decade, and people had begun to realise that you didn’t need quite so many nuclear weapons to blow each other to shit.  Just one or two would do it, and you could spend the money you saved on sweets.

At school we studied cheering little gems like Where the Wind Blows, where we watched the terrifyingly mundane couple Jim and Hilda make ineffectual shelters against nuclear fall out, using old doors and blankets. And then they died.

We watched Threads in which we follow the aftermath of a nuclear war in Sheffield. I won’t be accused of posting spoilers if I point out that it did not end well. Also, I doubt that the butler did it.

We read Children of the Dust. I had nightmares.

We watched Mad Max beyond Thunderdome. It explained that nuclear war would turn us into feral pack rats ruled by Tina Turner’s wig. We would be forced to re-enact Scrap Heap Challenge for no prizes, and parliament would be replaced by a rudimentary cage fighting technique until Mel Gibson could save us.

We were marginally cheered by this at the time. Mel was at the height of his powers and had yet to descend into the alcoholic, anti-semite with the Lord on his side that he is today. He was more Ray Mears but with better defined muscles and a gimlet stare that could make you go weak at the knees.

Like Obi Wan Kenobi before him. He was my only hope.

And that hope died.

Mel was a long way into the future in the early days of my cold war life, where I spent night after night torturing myself into wakefulness about what to me, seemed the ever present reality of nuclear war.

Teachers did not help. I remember one chap telling us, after we had watched Where the Wind Blows and were all catatonic with stress, that there was no point worrying about the shelter building stuff anyway, as we lived far too near a major communications centre, so should war be declared, we would all be heaps of irradiated ash within five minutes of the strike.

Happy days.

And yesterday our government pledged to spend £31 billion renewing four Trident submarines to ‘defend’ us against ‘threat’.

Four? This morning that was what really struck me. Four of them. It seems criminally wasteful at every level.

I have already blogged about what is in my opinion, the shameful waste of money that could be better spent on hospitals, schools, doctor’s surgeries, nurses bursaries, training GPs, looking at our business infrastructure, building mental health provision, supporting SMEs and keeping libraries open for a start. It seems obvious to me that now, more than ever, we need our own money invested in our own country so that we can survive. If we don’t start doing this, what’s the point of having Trident? What are we defending? What will be left of us to save?

It breaks my heart that time after time, sad ministers with crocodile tears in their eyes deliver swingeing cuts to services, fail to deliver on promises and yet here we are, happily spending £31 billion.

The biggest waste of all? The likelihood is that those submarines will never be used. I used to go out with a boy whose dad had the job of decommissioning nuclear submarines ‘safely’. That was in the Eighties too. How long will it take before our four, state of the art, subs need decommissioning ‘safely’?

What even is ‘safely’ in something that can irradiate us all for millennia safely or dangerously?

And if they are used? Will we really feel the benefit?

My answer. Go and watch Where The Wind Blows and get back to me.




20 responses to “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good

  1. Christine Bliss

    My feelings exactly!
    keep cool.x

  2. watchingthewheels

    It really is enough to make you weep ffs

  3. Husband and I had a very similar conversation this morning.
    Mhairi Black’s speech in parliament was spot on. The biggest threat to our existence is climate change. How is Trident going to help with that? Four submarines for the select few to live in while the rest of us take to rubber dinghies.

  4. I would like to harm the politicians who are cutting things we need, to pay for this insanity. If I had a pound for every time one of them has said “difficult decisions”, when referring to a choice between a weapons system that gives them an erection and an incubator for small babies, I would be able to bribe them all to f go away.

  5. Stop the world I want to get off! Not an original observation I know but I make it from the heart.
    On the plus side about 150,000 tory party members, having been denied the right to vote for our leader, are probably feeling a lot happier today. Imagine the consternation when they heard/read Theresa’s inaugural speech – what the hell is all this bollocks about social and economic equality? People were even comparing it to that leftie Ed Milliband’s campaign speech, some mistake surely? That lovely lady Andrea Leadsom was a bit hasty throwing in the towel. So she had more skeletons rattling round the cupboard than the London Dungeon and no credible policies on Brexit or the economy, but at least her attitude to torturing small furry animals and dispensing with gay rights, worker’s rights and anybody else’s rights for that matter, was just what they were looking for in a PM. Imagine the relief when Mad May announced that not only was she keen as mustard to squander 30 billion on trident, but would happily nuke 100,000 innocent men, women and children to make it all worthwhile if needs be.
    Contrary to the belief of some spear rattling brexiters we seem to be rather short of allies right now, unless you count that well known pacifist Donald Trump, and our sphere of influence is diminishing daily.
    Never mind ‘good old fashioned British values’ are being maintained, just like the leave campaign promised, start building that shelter and stocking up on tins of beans….

  6. I suspect you and I are much of an age. I certainly grew up exposed to the same nuclear references! Add in the tv show Survivors (the drama, not anything to do with “real” people doing ridiculous things) & lots of dystopian sci-fi books and you can see how my post-apocalyptic mindscape was pretty much fully formed by age 18. I thought then that should They drop the Bomb, I wanted it to land on me, not “survive” it. My view has not shifted. Never was an acronym more apt than MAD.

    That said, the trident vote surprises me not one jot. Have a bit of Yes, Prime Minister to cheer you (& me) up:

    Sir Humphrey: “With Trident we could obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe.”
    Jim Hacker: “I don’t want to obliterate the whole of Eastern Europe.”
    Sir Humphrey: “It’s a deterrent.”
    Jim Hacker: “It’s a bluff. I probably wouldn’t use it.”
    Sir Humphrey: “Yes, but they don’t know that you probably wouldn’t.”
    Jim Hacker: “They probably do.”
    Sir Humphrey: “Yes, they probably know that you probably wouldn’t. But they can’t certainly know.”
    Jim Hacker: “They probably certainly know that I probably wouldn’t.”
    Sir Humphrey: “Yes, but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that, although you probably wouldn’t, there is no probability that you certainly would.”
    Yes, Prime Minister, Season 1, episode 1.

  7. HI I came across your Blog post “that day” as I was fighting a war against remain voters, who told me to calm down and sing Kumbaya. Since then I have read your post, some I agree with some I do not, but I am now officially a follower.

  8. Sad, depressing, and brilliantly laid out. Thank you for your coherence in an increasingly jumbled world.

  9. Wow I’d completely forgotten about Jim and Hilda!

    At the moment I’m mainly with your husband on this one I’m afraid. In my twenties I lived in a townhouse in south London. Each house except ours prominently displayed a blue alarm box and “beware of the dogs” sign as deterrents to burglars. The neighbours told us to get geared up or expect Billy. I compared the cost of an alarm system with the entire value of the contents of my house and it was a no brainer – we kept our smart facade the way the architect had intended and hoped any burglars would get the idea that we had nothing worth nicking. They did and we were safe for years – the cars all got broken into at one time or other (radios were worth stealing back then) and my neighbour’s house burned down after a lightning strike, but our house was untouched. There were better pickings in the leafy streets full of annoyingly nice houses on large plots in the surrounding area, so we didn’t make it onto Billy’s radar. I concluded that if you have nothing worth stealing and you don’t annoy anyone too much you can rely on your front door as a deterrent.

    I also accepted that I probably saved money because the whole of my terrace was alarmed to the hilt so Billy walked on by without noticing me.

    Many years later and I do now have a house alarm (and a dog)
    because I know my annoyingly nice house will tempt someone to have a go even though I still have nothing worth stealing. In fact I did get burgled on one of the few occasions that the alarm was off and the dog wasn’t home – Billy ran off with several empty jewellery boxes (I only own the few bits I wear and kept the boxes out of sentimentality) and the laughs at his expense were worth the cost of a broken window. Burglars are posher these days so not even my laptop or iPad were of any interest. I am sure word got round not to bother with my house but I keep the alarm on now because someone who didn’t get the email will try again.

    If we were Andorra or Finland I would agree with you – total waste of money. But we are G6 (for a little longer at least) as well as the owners of MI5 and MI6 and the third biggest military budget in the world. We have a permanent seat on the UNSC and a Commonwealth and have interfered heavily in the affairs of virtually every country in the world at some point. We are heavily implicated in all the long held grudges and simmering conflicts from the Cold War to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the “war on terror” and most of the inter-tribal conflicts of the Middle East and Africa. Our Age of Empire and an endless appetite for drawing lines on maps and “punching above our weight” have ongoing consequences for our security.

    I don’t believe you can start fights every day of the week and then expect your front door to protect you. And I don’t see how spending all the money on filling the house with expensive lovely things and leaving the front door open is a wise move. I do however realise that mutual assured destruction is an extreme defence system and I do worry that there are now many people for whom MADness is not a deterrent but a welcome route to heaven. But for most it is perhaps the only reason to walk past us without kicking in the door and hurling a few well deserved punches in our direction.

    That said, I like to think that in our eventual post-Brexit existence we will settle into our new role as the largely irrelevant old lady of the world that can rely on our rich, noisy offspring as bodyguards. Then we can spend our small pension on digestive biscuits instead of nuclear submarines.

    • I see your point completely, but it doesn’t take into account that we already have lots of weaponry. They’re talking about upgrading Trident, not that we don’t have it, and the old stuff kills just as many as the new stuff. I do love your last paragraph mind you! It would be great if we could spend our pensions on biscuits!

  10. I think we should move on and leave the MAD nuclear weapons age in the 1950. Is Russia going to nuke us? Is it a comfort to know if we are killed in a nuclear attack that at least our attackers died too? I think that comparing it to someone breaking into your house to steal your nice things does not fit here. If you are really interested in taking the nice things then it makes no sense to throw a petrol bomb through the window and burn the house to the ground. Many wars are fought over resources and land. Nuclear attack destroys property and leave land and resources inaccessible in a radioactive hot spot.

    The only reason to burn someone’s house down is pure hate (or fear and desperation to be rid of them). I only know of the USA using them against Japan to bring their war to a rapid end. That was a sad and regrettable attack. It is one thing to say we are unpopular and another to suggest we are hated enough that other leaders want to annihilate us.

    The terrorist who really do hate enough to want to annihilate us don’t seem to be put off by our having nuclear weapons. How would you even expect to fire a nuclear weapon in retaliation to a terrorist attack? America didn’t nuke Afganistan after September 11th 2001. The UK didn’t nuke Dewsbury and Leeds after the 7th of July 2005 London bombings. Heaven help us if terrorist got their hands on a Nuclear bomb. What does MAD matter to someone who is already willing to sacrifice their life in exchange for killing as many others as possible? We are not left defenceless without Trident. We still have a military to protect us. If the money is really needed for defence I would rather our soldiers are properly equipped.

    To quote “War Games” “Global Thermonuclear War…The only winning move is not to play.”

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