Beware the savage jaw…
They got us right worked up about it, they did. Big Brother, Winston Smith, Oceania, Room 101, dystopian future, Orwellian nightmare, under Thatcher it seemed ever so likely that at the chime of the Hogmanay bells, 1984 would tick in, jackboots would break down the doors and we’d all descend into the totalitarian state of erased and altered histories. It was going to be hard.
Oh yeah. Well ‘ard.
Maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. The clocks were striking thirteen and we got the film and we got the Eurythmics single. We also got a triptych of singles, a series of T-shirts and more 12″ vinyl than you could have ever imagined. Sex, war and religion. It summed up the mood of the year whilst slapping you in the face with the arrogance of it all.
Fear. The big disease with the little name, there was that for a start. We were sold the “gay plague” as an easy way of directing the fear into anger, anger against a scared minority, yet here were these two, this scally singer, this clone dancer, being gay right there in your face. Or they would have been if the video hadn’t been conveniently banned, behind Mike Read’s po-faced pronouncements on Radio One. Don’t do it.
Then there was the mad US president with his finger on the red button and that suspicious new Soviet premier. We’re all going to die. Nuclear annihilation. Mutually assured destruction. Proliferation. The real weapons of mass destruction. Four minute warning. Dancing With Tears in my Eyes. The (post) apocalyptic drama Threads was broadcast in 1984 and scared us all into drink and drugs: let me be under that bomb when – not if – it comes, let me die quickly and not survive. No future, once more.
Meanwhile Thatcher, renewed confidence from re-election, started her own war with the miners, a crippling war which destroyed more lives than our imaginary nuclear destruction. The north started a long bite back against this new totalitarian regime. The Brighton Grand hotel was bombed by the IRA with her inside: she arose from the ashes even more determined to crush us all.
It was a big year, but the summer would always belong to Frankie. Nine weeks at number one, endless Horn remixes with the chilling words of Adolf Hitler signing off his treason trial (“for she acquits us”) nuzzling alongside Patrick Allen’s “Protect and Survive” narration.
If your grandmother or any other member of the family should die whilst in the shelter, put them outside, but remember to tag them first for identification purposes.
Light hearted fun: even Big Brother was scared off.
Relax, it’s only a nuclear war.
Jan & Adam