Nuclear War Head – 1977
I’d grown up in the 1960s under the constant threat of mutual annihilation. This was the cold war era – the age of the Cuban Missile crisis. I remember going to school on that day not expecting to return home. The Russian fleet was heading for Cuba with missiles for the Castro. The USA told them that if they crossed a certain point it was an act of war. Kennedy may have been bluffing. We will likely never really know. The Russians steamed straight up to the line. We held our breath. They turned back.
We grew up with the knowledge that tens of nuclear warheads were pointing at us wherever we were in Britain.
America was using us as a forward base for their missiles. They had hopes of a nuclear war being confined to Europe. It would leave America and the bulk of the USSR out. We were the equivalent of a huge aircraft carrier for American planes. We were expendable.
When I taught in Beverley the great US Vulcan bombers took off from Leconfield directly over the school. The whole building shuddered as the giants clawed their way into the air. Each one of those huge planes carried a dozen nuclear bombs.
It was not a question of whether we were going to be consumed in a nuclear holocaust so much as when.
Britain was splattered with nuclear shelters for the politicians and civil servants. Under the House of Commons, far below the underground the politicians put their faith in a hardened shelter fully resistant to direct hits. I put my faith in CND and multilateral disarmament. I put my faith in CND and unilateral disarmament too. I felt it was better not to be a forward base for American whims. Too many of them were evangelical Christians who were looking forward to the end of the world!
I wanted to live!