For one weekend only, I had an only child.....

And it was not fun.

No, seriously, I really am built to handle more than one at a time. Or perhaps I am attuned to a more vocal child. Son Number 2 is a sweet and deep thinking, quiet person who enjoys explosions and a good dose of science. having just him without the voice of his elder bro is weird. He doesn't step up and talk louder. He just smiles a lot more. And getting him to say what he wants to see or do or eat can be next to impossible. Except pizza. He likes pizza.

So we had a family day out that was chosen for him but not by him. It has to be science-y based. It has to be interesting. It has to be a short drive away because although we had all day we didn't want to spend all day driving. Thanks to your lovely advice, we chose a secret nuclear bunker in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.


Hack Green Nuclear Bunker was built at the height of the Cold War fear of nuclear war and only decommissioned in 1993. It was one of a set of secret bunkers from which the UK government (or those that survived) could run the place afterwards. It had radio studios, dormitories, tracking systems and supplies enough to keep the staff safely out of harms way for a while. And now tourists visit for £8 a time. This is the link to Trip Advisor. It had been on my must do list for a few years. Having only my little scientist at home seemed like the best chance to test it out on him.

And it was interesting. I'm not old enough (thank God) to remember the 60's Cold War, but I do remember the 80's, and the very real fear that if Reagan and  Breshnev/Andropov kept on the way they were then nuclear war was a real possibility. Protect and Survive leaflets were made, programmes on TV showed people who had stocked up ready for the disaster and does anybody else remember being told to shelter under a door or table if the alarm goes off? It was scarey. For a young teenager, very scarey.
And Hack Green has enough bits n bobs from the time, enough posters, leaflets, information, clips of Government advice programmes and clothing to give you chills down the back. It has information about what happened after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a bunker with sound effects and flashing lights to simulate a strike and well enough quotes and thoughts of many people who must, now, be glad they never lived to see the desolation.


Worst of all/most striking of all/ scariest of all is the BBC programme, War Games made in 1965 and going into what would happen in the UK in the event of a nuclear attack. I lasted 10 minutes of the 45.  No wonder it was banned for 20 years. It was not nice.

But does this review make the place sound bad? I hope not. It was really interesting, like looking back on my past through a dirty lens. Things I have forgotten came back to me. I remembered what my Mum used to say; that she would rather go at once than last out with radiation sickness, and that she would hope we were altogether when it happened. I remembered trying to make a pact with God that He wouldn't let the nuclear strike happen until I'd had a chance to see The Empire Strikes Back all the way through. I remember reading Z for Zachariah and watching the TV version (Anthony Andrews) although I see a new film version is due to be released later this year.

I never joined CND, and I don't know now whether the situation in Russia is beginning to grow ever more cautious with the Ukraine and the return of ... well, unusual ways of killing people coming back. I know the nuclear genie is out of the bottle and cannot ever go back in, but I worry we will be living on the edge again, living in fear that something happens and in hope that it never will. That's my deep prayer, that the fear of what the war would do to civilisation is enough to stop anybody from unleashing the dogs of hell. Only a madman would.....



Comments

  1. What a thought-provoking and sobering post. I'm glad you had a good time, but I'm sure that I would have nightmares for weeks if I went there. It does makes you wonder if anybody ever learns anything from the past, looking around at al the hatred and destruction in the world today, but let's hope it never comes to needing a place like this xx

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    1. That's very seriously my hope! Visiting it was a bit like visiting a Holocaust site; you are made so aware that human nature sometimes is capable of the most horrific things. No nightmares last night, but I feel the world knows how bad a nuclear war would be and that it is very much a last resort.

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  2. What did Son No 2 make of the place? It looks an interesting place but scary as you say. I remember an episode of Tomorrow's World about a nuclear attack that scared the life out of me as a teenager. It seemed to me a very real threat at the time. I fervently hope we don't have to face the threat again.

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    1. It was a very real threat, I think. James really appreciated it. He was fascinated by the lengths the place had gone to, to be prepared, and how powerful an atom can be. He said he hadn't seen as much information or pictures about nuclear war and fall out before, but then it isn't the imminent threat it used to be. Now we watch the person next to us with suspicion, not a faceless and alien danger.

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  3. Just wait until you're left with only one at home, the house seems awfully quiet until you get used to it. What an interesting day out. I remember all the nuclear war scares of the 80's but I don't remember being too scared about it, I think as a teenager I had more pressing things on my mind, as you do. What's a nuclear war compared to your latest crush or getting tickets to see Duran Duran?

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    1. Now, you see, I never had the option of Duran Duran, and I was a sci fi freak who had read all the post-apocalyptic fiction available at the time (thank God The Road hadn't been written) so I was quite scared at one point, I remember. Of course then you get older and the threat fades and the exams take over....

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  4. Oh I remember being so scared during the early part of the 80s. Sometimes I'd lie awake at night just worrying about whether we'd all be blown to smithereens. Some of the documentaries of the time didn't help either! I bet it was an interesting day. Jx

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    1. Interesting indeed! And sobering for me. But James enjoyed it as a place we know we couldn't take the daughter to.

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  5. How interesting! I must not live too far from you (Warrington) and we had considered a day out there with our sons, but reading this I think at 5 and 6 years old they are a bit too young.
    I was 13 in 1985 and remember being shown a film called The Day After in a history lesson at school! It was an American docudrama set in a nuclear holocaust. I became very anti-bomb and also used to lie awake worrying about it.
    It sounds like an interesting day out.

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  6. I have always said that I hope that if it happens I just go straight away, no desire to hang around after an awful nuclear event. I am sure that this was a very interesting place to visit though and that we could all learn a lot from such a visit. xx

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  7. I'm glad your son enjoyed the day out. It's all very thought provoking stuff. Graham and I were discussing how scary it all felt during the 80's with the threat of Russia. I hope we don't have to live through anything like that again. I'm none too comfortable with the current situation either.
    Lisa x

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