I remember, back in the day….
Today is the 67th anniversary of my birth. I’ve had lots of cards (well,10) to celebrate this milestone, and been overwhelmed by messages of congratulations, love and good wishes….and the odd present (thank you mum). Mainly coming through the medium of Face Book and SMS. Does this mark the beginning of the end for birthday cards ?
One of my earliest memories is my first day at infant school and making friends with another young boy called Malcolm Scholey (where are you now Malcolm ??) that would be in 1952. The shame is, I have no memories of Malcolm after that day !! I got my thinking cap on and tried to remember the world events that had an effect on me from that earliest of memories….so here goes…
1956 … I remember people talking about ‘the war to come’..it was the Suez Crisis, when Britain and France invaded Egypt to wrest control of the Suez from the Egyptians who had just Nationalised it….I also remember very vividly the Hungarian uprising and seeing the graphic pictures of hundreds of dead Hungarian troops laying in the snow.
1957 … Sputnik and the wonder of ‘Beeps’ from space. The beginning of the space age proper….I was already a big fan of ‘Dan Dare’…
1958 … The year the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) was formed amidst the real fears of a nuclear holocaust … I became a supporter and proudly wore the badge, getting into trouble at school for refusing to take it off !!
1960 … The ‘Sharpeville Massacre‘… in South Africa. I was horrified at the treatment of the Black population in S.Africa…it was my introduction to Racism and Apartheid.
1961 … The Berlin Wall … what a shock that was, and afterwards, for years seeing young people shot to death for trying to escape to the West. The Cold War got really icy after the wall went up. At the other end of the scale, made possible by the same people who shot the ones trying to get to the west, who can forget the wonder of the first man to orbit the Earth in space…YURI GAGARIN … The space race was on !!!
1962 … Was a very scary year !!! … people were walking round looking up to the skies, looking for Soviet Bombers and ICBM’s during the ‘CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS’ … if ever the war we all dreaded was going to happen, it should have happened then when the Soviet Union tried to install nuclear missiles in bases on the island of Cuba. Thank God Kennedy called Nikita Khrushchev’s bluff and Khrushchev backed down.
1963 … I remember having tingles up my spine when I heard Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech … It was around this time that, like the ‘Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, the black people in the Southern states were being badly mistreated and even killed by white’s who still regarded them as slaves and who didn’t deserve the rights other human beings had. That affected me badly, and I can still recall the news film of black demonstrators being whipped, beaten and attacked by police dogs when they were on a peaceful Civil rights march. Horrendous !! The assassination of John F Kennedy … was another shock to the system. They do say that everyone can remember where they were when that news broke. To my mind, it has never been satisfactorily proven, even to this day, who was responsible for this heinous deed. TELSTAR was launched that year too.
1964 …Civil Rights act passed in the USA … nothing much changed, the hatred was still there as far as I could see from the newsreels. I really thought it would make a big difference…maybe me being a little naive as I was developing my political ideology .
1965 … Was a good year as I remember it. I was still a hippy at heart but the free love thing passed me by,,,in the night…by a mile… I remember the nation (GB) mourning the death of Sir Winston Churchill..though not everyone !! and the Black community was mourning the death of another great leader..Malcolm X. It wasn’t until years later that I realised what a great man he was…I suppose being white, I wasn’t at the forefront of understanding about Black culture. We live and learn.
1966 … England won the Jules Rimet Trophy..The soccer World Cup…My, what a feeling of Euphoria swamped the nation…The country that gave the world soccer as we know it finally won something !! …we haven’t won anything else since that day !!!
1967 … The Summer of Love … passed me by again!!…never got a whiff 0f it at all !!
1968 … The Prague Spring uprising was brutally crushed by the Soviet Army, who were getting very good at crushing the Eastern Block uprisings before they really got going ……. That was the year I joined the British Army…a Cavalry regiment… the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) … Chieftain tanks … That took up the next ten years of my life … Missed the Punk era completely !!! …and so began my war… not a shooting war, with the exception of a couple of tours of duty in Northern Island, but the COLD WAR which at times was just as scary as a shooting war….
1969 … The Moon landing … watched it live whilst on duty guarding a nuclear weapons storage facility (allegedly ) somewhere in deepest West Germany. I can’t describe how thrilled I was at that achievement…breathtaking !! and of course WOODSTOCK … wasn’t there but my God!! did I wish I was !!
1972 … Dark days in Northern Ireland …. Internment without trial, and the debacle that was ‘Bloody Sunday’ …. I don’t suppose we will ever get to the bottom of that but it was the first time I came face to face with hatred aimed at me and my uniform after that affair. Then I remember, the Massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games…and watched it unfold on TV…grim viewing indeed.
1973 … The first space station was launched, Skylab , and who could not forget Tricky Dickie and the Watergate scandal … how embarrassing that must have been for the White House !! Nixon resigns the following year.
1975 … Saw the end of the Vietnam War, which for me showed the absolute madness of politicians who poured countless young Americans into the mincer of a war that could not possibly be won, no matter how technologically advanced they were, a dark time in the history of the USA and Vietnam.
1978 … The wonder, and the protests, when the first test tube baby was born.
1979 … That dreadful woman, Maggie Thatcher became the Prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and proceeded to destroy the Trade Union movement and attack the working class at every turn. Enough said about that woman…she sure left her claw marks on the lives of millions.
1980’s … saw the eruption of Mount St Helens, and like most modern disasters we watched it on TV. …. The birth of SOLIDARITY in the shipyards of Gdansk, led by the Charismatic Lech Walesa ….. The space shuttle made it’s first orbital flight and the FALKLANDS WAR IN 1982…so many lives lost…… !984 saw the start of the year long Miners strike, the strongest Union inn the UK crushed by Thatcher and the American imported hatchet man McGregor…dark days indeed for Britain’s working class……1986 saw the Space Shuttle ‘Challenger’ disaster and also the Chernobyl nuclear disaster….. The next Really big event occurred in 1989 when the BERLIN WALL Came down … my god that was a shock !!! the fall Of the SOVIET UNION and the wall happened so fast. I really never believed that would happen in my life time, and of course it led to the REUNIFICATION of GERMANY in 1990 … never thought I would live to see that either !!
Well those are just a few things I remember making an impact on my life these past 67 years…Many I haven’t mentioned, like my marriage, kids and grand kids… that’s not to say they don’t matter, they do, greatly…as did the deaths of people I loved, they mattered too but I think I was already shaped by world events by then. I hope I haven’t bored you silly with the procession of facts, but it is out of the way now, done and dusted. I feel I may have missed out on some momentous events, but they escape my memory for now. No doubt I will remember them tomorrow or the day after. One thing I can promise you though ….. next year on the 68th anniversary of my birth, I will NOT write another epic like this one. Goodnight peeps, stay safe.