Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, War has Begun

There was a TV programme on Channel 4 tonight - 1983: The Brink of Apocalypse (sorry, no link) - it was all about the most critical point of The Cold War between the USSR and the USA. A combination of activities by various western powers contrived to make the USSR believe that a nuclear attack was imminent. There was a major NATO exercise going on - called Able Archer - which simulated nuclear armageddon, there was a lot of electronic traffic between the US and the UK and Reagan was making some very provocative speeches about the "evil empire" in the USSR.

It seems, the only thing that kept the USA and USSR from launching every goddamn missile they had at each other was the Soviet spies, despite enormous pressure from their bosses in The Kremlin, could find no compelling evidence that the West had actually launched anything, there was only the indication that a lot of things appeared to be in place and that Able Archer might be a smokescreen for the real thing.

This all came to a head on November 8th 1983. By an interesting quirk of fate (I've always wanted to use that phrase) I know exactly where I was on November 8th 1983. I was in a bar/pub called The Old Rangoon on Castelnau, Barnes where everybody bought me drinks for the whole evening. It was a hoot. These are the photos. The rather luscious frizzie blonde sitting next to me was called Ginny. She was a lovely, deliciously curvy gal, great fun, and to a young rather naive chap like me was just a whole mess of excitement. She was working as a nanny next door to the large houseshare I was living in at the time in Roehampton in south west London. This is still the shared accomodation of which I have the fondest memories. A great bunch of people, we had a ball, Andy, Rosie, Tony, Chris, Phil, Karen, Murray, Jeannine, Terry, Yvonne and many others - what a crowd, I love you all and think of you often.

And only now, have I found, thanks to this C4 documentary, that the closest we ever came to a full on, flat out, kill us all, nuclear armageddon, was on my 21st birthday.

No comments: