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.
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.