Cold War hots up

‘British fighter jets escort Russian planes from UK airspace.’

Is Big Brother watching us as these incidents are recurring on a regular basis?

These days ‘Big Brother’ is synonymous with the Channel 4 television programme.

The Orwellian term in my day meant that we were being watched by sinister faceless beings who were listing all the revolutionary comments we were making against the establishment.

As an angst-ridden teenager, when I raged, without knowing what I was talking about, that I was against communism, my visiting grandfather, stood up and waved his finger warning me that ‘walls have ears’.

We lived in a block of four flats with poor insulation so I suppose he was right, but my imagination lifted to heights of more sinister beings than Mrs McDonald next door listening to my teenage hysterics.

It was a time of great fear for most teenagers of my generation. There were still echoes of the pain and poverty of WW2, raw reminders of man’s inhumanity to man.

But more pertinent was the threat of atomic war and then nuclear war. I remember sitting down in Princes Street in a protest and getting told off from my mother for making a mess of my good winter coat. Good winter coats were few and far between.

Our imagination was fired by the American comics which illustrated in graphic cartoon form the after affects of atomic attacks. Horses with their skins peeling off, contaminated water and people exposed to the atomic blasts dying in huge numbers. And no one upright enough to bury the bodies!

With the active imagination which I was always cursed with, my terror had no boundaries.

Years later I learned that schoolchildren in the USA regularly had nuclear attack drills in school. These were executed in exactly the same way we in Scotland would have fire drills. An alarm would go off and we would form an orderly line to the nearest exit where the teachers would do a head count.

I can imagine the terror instilled in the American children as they were growing up being subjected to this kind of indoctrination.

There was the Bay of Pigs stand off which induced terror in the young men of that era who were on standby to enter a different kind of war to that experienced before. (To my shame I was more interested in seeing the latest Jaques Tati film than
taking on board the call up fears of my latest boyfriend).

Then the Cold War years and it would seem that we are there again. The difference this time is that everything is instant.

Communications mean that we know immediately what has happened, where and how.

The ‘why’ might be unclear but thanks to mobile phones and their inbuilt cameras there is less chance of biased reporting and of authority or ruling regimes editing what we see.

In a way Big Brother has come full circle as we all have the ability to monitor what is happening – not just the select few.


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