Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Air Attack Warning

Well, while I'm here (not I'm not pissed, just couldn't sleep), I thought I'd update the world on the TTD Doomsday Clock. This interesting device measures the nearness of Threads to my imagination. At the moment it is quite close: the ideas and vocabulary of the teleplay are constantly at hand. For example, on Saturday the Thornbury Tesco suffered a powercut. Clearly my first thought was that a nearby nuclear explosion was to blame. It turned out to be rain. There was no need to panic buy, and no chance of hearing Five Live interrupting their premiership coverage to tell us that a US Carrier had been sunk in the Persian Gulf.

Bloody hell- the end of the world, as read by Richard Bacon. It's enough to make you seek out the prompt radiation.

This might have been influenced by a recent re-reading of Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence. This is an intriguing book, published in 1985, which posits a nuclear war as seen from er, the banks of the Severn (the other side from Berkeley and Hill). In this novel, written for teenagers, there are explosions at - Bristol, Oldbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester - everywhere. And the destruction is so complete that mutations become dominant from the next generation onwards. These mutations eventually form the basis of a new species of human, one with the memory of nuclear war embedded in their psyches. The curious thing about this novel is that there is a strong biblical subtext - this is a kind of Noah's Ark, except that the flood was caused by us, given space by God to do so, for reasons of his own, namely the new, superior race that was to emerge. In short - we, homo sapiens, had failed. We were to be allowed to fail in order to be destroyed by our own hand. The replacements, a kind of cross between Stone Age man and the Tomorrow People, would not repeat the mistakes.

Or so the story went. A silly one, at the end.

I also re-read Martin Amis's Einstein's Monsters last week. This is a collection of 5 short stories on the subject of nuclear war. 3 are crap, two are good. The worst bit, actually, is Amis' introduction, which is typical 80s Amis, when he was still full of his own shit. He routinely denounces writers he doesn't agree with as "subhuman" but does not appear to have done *any* research on his subject beyond reading Jonathan Schell's book on it - he hasn't watched Threads or the Day After or The War Game, for example. Like a lot of writers, he pulls bits of quantum theory out of his arse and pretends he knows about physics and maths. He also completely gets geopolitics arse over tit and confidently announces we cannot possibly defeat the Soviets on any level, nuclear or otherwise, ever. This was written in 1987.

"Formal First"? Fuck me, Mart, not in maths, mate; not in maths.

I also had the deflating experience of re-reading The H Bomb Girl by Stephen Baxter, which on a second reading turns out to have been copied straight out of Threads, and to have utterly mixed up 80s and 60s Civil Defence, and to have snuck in some shit references to Reagan and Thatcher as wanting to prolong the Cold War - how dishonest can you be? I mean really, how much of a liar do you have to be to think that Reagan, who instigated and carried through summit talks with Gorby with the ideal of getting rid of all nuclear weapons, just wanted to keep the conflict simmering for ever? And Thatch? Did she *really* want a strong USSR in perpetuity? Bollocks did she - she wanted it defeated by its own subjects, as it was (and the forces of economic necessity, etc etc). Bloody hell - I'll say this for your lefty writer - they can be utterly, deliberately, ignorant.

In that respect, maybe Daisy Dukes and bikinis on top have their attractions after all.

The TTD Doomsday Clock stands at 11.42pm

1 comment:

Matt M said...

(not I'm not pissed, just couldn't sleep)

If it leads to more blogging from you then I hope you have many more sleepless nights. :-)