13
Aug 09

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD – “Two Tribes”

FT + Popular125 comments • 20,564 views

#536, 16th June 1984, video

In 1982, armageddon came to the pages of 2000AD. The Sov-Bloc, sworn enemies of Judge Dredd, invented a missile defense shield that allowed them to strike at Mega City One with impunity. They did so, having first maddened and weakened its already-decadent populace. In one memorable scene, as the missiles fall, citizens in as yet unbombed zones take advantage of the radiation heatwave to strip down and dance, singing a catchy tune called “Apocalypso”. It was a typical 2000AD touch, absurd but with a kernel of resonant truth. In the face of certain annihilation, what else to do but dance it on? “Two Tribes” – as thrill-powered a record as has ever hit the top – asks the same question and gets the same answer.

The first three Frankie singles, according to their ideologue Paul Morley, took on the biggest themes going: sex, war, religion. But which was which? “Relax” restaged sex as an arena fight, with the British public as the scandalised and delighted audience, thumbs twitching up or down. “Two Tribes”, on the other hand, takes the “Relax” blueprint and makes it even sleazier. More driving and more grandiose, yes, but Holly Johnson’s barks and gasps sound just as depraved, and the crazed robo-bass that thunders through the track – black leather on metal hips – gives “Two Tribes” an anchor in rock’n’roll “Relax” had lacked.

Like several hit records, “Two Tribes” is notionally about the futility of war: like few of the others, it reacts to this with a nihilist lust. If sex and horror are the new gods – and the lipsmacking way Holly asks the question leaves no doubt it’s rhetorical – then what better way to worship than a world sacrifice? Like a Shangri-La’s record, “Two Tribes” taps into pop’s doomed-youth death-drive, except it’s not just some Jimmy or Johnny on that fatal motorbike ride, it’s all of us. The video ends, modestly, with the planet exploding.

The song stayed on top for weeks, then months, thanks to the string of 12″ remixes ZTT rolled out to the public. Each emphasised different elements in the song, threw particular spotlights on its madness: one looped the band’s unbothered scouser voices from an interview: “My name’s Pedz, my name’s Mark, my name’s Nash…MINE. IS THE LAST VOICE YOU WILL EVER HEAR.” Another took the record’s bombastic intro and built it up into Wagnerian muscle disco. A third made too great a use of a somewhat ragged Reagan impersonator. You got the feeling that somewhere there must exist the perfect mix, the one which caught the very best moments of each version. If it were ever played, perhaps the world would end.

The single mix almost works as this imaginary highlights reel – the inhuman bass keeps the juxtapositions and sudden flourishes from seeming too wild, and only the abrupt ending lets you down. Horn had really cracked the technology by now, too, not just triggering the right samples at the right time but making them work in the song’s headspace, so the Eno-esque synth washes float over the hi-NRG thunder like battlefield mist, and the symphonic blurts sound like Pedz (or Mark or Nash) had stepped forward and simply pulled a full orchestra out of his pocket. As that summer wound on and the holidays started, I went round a friends’ house and saw the new walkman he’d just got for his birthday. I asked to give it a go and this was inside, on tape – the first thing I’d ever listened to on headphones. It was the most exciting sound I had ever heard. Still is.

10

Comments

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  1. 61
    swanstep on 14 Aug 2009 #

    Sorry (overlord) Tom, but I don’t see that Two Tribes has the ‘dancing while the bomb drops’ vibe that you say it does (just as well because, taken literally, *that* idea’s always a complete loser, from that 2000 AD case you mention to the wretched Matrix sequel’s farcical rave/orgy scene). As others have said above, it’s not especially danceable, and, as you get at by saying how great it sounded to you through headphones, it’s fundamentally something one *listens to* rather than something one grooves to, or gets down to, etc.. Your headphone anecdote is telling: TT was an audio carpet-bombing. With all the mixes both of TT itself and its stellar symbiote, the cover of Edwin Starr’s War (when two tribes go to war, a point is all you can score because war what is it good for? absolutely nothing, say it again…) Trevor Horn had strapped the biggest, best studio cans you can find on the whole nation/world, and turned it up. (I vividly remember my mental image of Horn – half-shadowed memories from the Buggles really – blurring into that of Eldon Tyrell from Blade Runner. Exciting, but frightening too. It was his audio world, we just lived in it.)

    Anyhow, I love the fact that the vid. has Chernenko in it! This nails the track down to its very specific moment: when the Soviet Union was most dangerous and expansive but also strangely rudderless and simply unintelligible. Chernenko would go on in March 1985 to be the third Soviet leader in three years to die in office, which was just crazy, but…in fact things had started to change before that. December 1984 Gorbachev visits the UK, is clearly the coming man, says v. publicly “Opportunities for the prevention of nuclear war exist. These opportunities must be used to the full,” and Thatcher announces v. loudly (if somewhat chillingly) ‘Here’s someone we can do business with.’ And so it proved.
    Whereas in 1984 there really was a sense that, holy crap, all this deterrence stuff was going to fail (let’s just take the one point then!) because there were lunatics (see Melle Mel on the same moment from about 2 minutes in here: [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrfO6kW8EIs[/url]) on ‘our’ side, and god-knows-who on ‘their’ side, 1985 saw deterrence yield a relatively rational, relatively cooperative equilibrium (there won’t be war, we’re just going to gradually walk this back…).

    Beyond this, 1984 was a bad bad year for AIDS – it was clear it was a massive plague but *still* people were only guessing about causes and means of transmission, which meant lots of fear, denial, etc. on all sides. In 1985, however, basic facts were settled, first International Conferences were held, first hopes of vaccines etc.. Most deaths still to come of course, but in some sense we were on the glide-path back to medical normality (just as were at last on the glide-path back to political normality of a relatively undivided world).

    There’s much more to be said… but, at least if you were paying attention, 1984 was an incredibly bonkers and stressed out time. Watchmen, although set in 1985, has the stench of 1984 (soviets rampaging through afghanistan, whereas gorbachev in 1985 despite giving the place one last try, is really trying just to get out) all over it in my view, and similarly with Angels in America. Some of the biggest, most impressive art-stuff that people are still grappling with today flows out of the moment that Frankie/Horn/Morley *did* capture in real time. Not quite sure how to score Two Tribe/War myself. It’s not mesmerizingly weird, perfect, timeless pop the way Dancing Queen or Whole Lotta Love or Wuthering Heights are. But it’s a perfect memento of a crisis, the way Ghost Town is (and what’s the soundtrack to current crises?), so, yes:
    10

  2. 62
    Miguel Toledo on 14 Aug 2009 #

    #53 Tom, I thought so, but I had to ask. Personally, I think New Pop will never be the subject of shame. It’s much more possible it’ll end up as the ABBA of this decade: music whose importance is so indisputable nobody will ever argue about it. But, as you say, by not being discussed, it’ll become less and less interesting.

    I have a hunch about the future: when the next battleground settles down, Pop Will Eat Itself will end up standing pretty well.

  3. 63
    Jonathan Bogart on 14 Aug 2009 #

    “Music whose importance is so indisputable nobody will ever argue about it” doesn’t describe ABBA in the US!

  4. 64
    Tom on 14 Aug 2009 #

    #63 Isn’t “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” about a nuclear meltdown not a nuclear war? Splitting hairs I guess. My Dad worked in nuclear power at the time, so maybe that’s why I put that interpretation on it.

  5. 65
    Tom on 14 Aug 2009 #

    #61 Great comment Swanstep, which got marked up as spam for no reason at all that I can see (I hope long comments aren’t getting spamblocked). I’ve rescued it.

  6. 66
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 14 Aug 2009 #

    Why were they dancing at a powerplant? No wonder there was a melt-down. I blame George Michael.

  7. 67
    Tom on 14 Aug 2009 #

    No no he works at the power plant then comes home for a last dance with his wife!

  8. 68
    Erithian on 14 Aug 2009 #

    Wow – so much to say about this one, so many memories and issues arising from the above comments.

    Firstly the record – here’s one occasion where Tom’s idea of the record of the year coincides with mine (unless he’s got an even better 10 coming, watch this space). I was reminded of “Two Tribes” when Johnny commented on “The Reflex” being a continuous stream of 3-second hooks in place of a song: as others have commented upthread, it’s not the most coherent song, but the sheer rush of ideas coming thick and fast carries everything before it, the aural carpet-bombing as described by swanstep #61. All held together by that fantastic bass riff. Fittingly the first nine-week number one for six years – for six of those nine weeks it had “Relax” joining it in the top three, and for the first two weeks of July ’84 Frankie’s entire recorded output was 1 and 2 in the singles chart. In those days when there was a separate 12-inch chart, “Two Tribes” was outselling the number 2 by a ratio of 7 to 1, while someone said that if the “Frankie Say” t-shirt sales had been counted as a single, they’d have had the top three to themselves. Event? Most certainly.

    If I’d got onto this thread early enough I’d have done a mini-quiz, which I’m sure most of you could have answered, although probably not so many of the wider listening public. Whose was “the last voice that you will ever hear”, and the sonorous voice talking about the air attack warning in the intro? It was the late Patrick Allen, also known for the Barrett Homes ads and Shooting Stars.

    And the Soviet president depicted in the video alongside an equally ropey Reagan lookalike? Yep, Chernenko. Swanstep above nails the important transition that was going on at the time, with the result that Chernenko has the rum fate of being better known for his role in the video than anything he did in office. Soon after Gorbachev took over, someone found a Nostradamus quatrain which went roughly like this: “There will be three old and sick tsars [Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko], and then there will be a fourth tsar known as Michael the Marked [cf Gorby’s birthmark]. He will be the last of the tsars [Soviet leaders] and after him will come the war with the yellow people”. Which is as spot on as Nostradamus gets!

  9. 69
    Erithian on 14 Aug 2009 #

    Tom #67 – so Midge Ure = Homer Simpson. Hmmm.

  10. 70
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 14 Aug 2009 #

    also: homer simpson = one of the yellow people! it all fits!

  11. 71
    Erithian on 14 Aug 2009 #

    Number 2 Watch: Nik Kershaw’s “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” for one week, then those two weeks of FGTH at 1 and 2, then – yikes! – Neil from The Young Ones with “Hole In My Shoe” for three weeks.

    I was taken with Conrad’s description of a “feeling” to New Pop, describing spring/summer ’82 as “yellowy”. I guess I’m not alone in ascribing certain periods or seasons with nebulous concepts that almost have colour, and which are a combination of mood, the pop songs of the time and what was happening in my life. So for instance autumn ’75 feels very distinct from spring ’76 for me and not just because of the weather. It’s almost like the way those autistic maths geniuses talk about numbers having individual characters, and it’s a concept almost as difficult to explain to anyone who wouldn’t feel it. Can anyone else have a better stab at putting it into words?

    The notion is particularly relevant here, perhaps, since this was the last number one while I was in full-time education, and subsequent times in my life are no longer marked by the rhythms of the academic year. There are good times and bad times, great songs and duff ones, to come, but somehow it gets less exciting from here on.

  12. 72
    Rory on 14 Aug 2009 #

    “Two Tribes” peaked at number 4 in Australia, one place higher than “Relax”, but in my memory it had always been the lesser track, a retread of elements of its predecessor without a proper song at the heart of it. The video held more interest, given that we had never been allowed to see the banned video of its predecessor, although the amazingly unlifelike Reagan impersonator was a bit distracting. But there wasn’t enough in it to make me go out and buy the single.

    Reading these comments has prompted a rethink about why it didn’t capture our hearts and charts the way it did yours. When I play the YouTube video today I can see the potential for greatness, but also suspect that the greatness lies elsewhere, in all of the extended mixes that turn it into an ever-shifting long-form monster of a track. The short version seems to stop just as it gets going, as if Frankie have fast-forwarded to the big finish and passed over the actual substance. At first I wondered if this was down to having only two lines to play with, but “I Feel Love” used a similar number of words to hypnotic effect, so no; it’s more that problem of trying to compress the entire “Two Tribes” musical landscape into four minutes.

    And this is where I suspect its Australian chart potential was reduced. We didn’t get the UK’s seven different single incarnations; Festival deigned only to release one 7″, two 12″s, and a cassingle. Not only did this reduce the potential for repeat purchases to keep the song in the charts, but it reduced its breadth. That sense of there being more to Frankie’s songs than the 7″ version was a big part of their appeal, I remember; the idea that your infatuation with a song didn’t have to end when you’d tired of the 7″ version, but could be reinvigorated mix by mix. We knew from the music press that Frankie were a phenomenon over here, and that you had been getting all these extra 12″ versions, but in those days there was no easy way to hear them; getting your local store to import a record was a long and laborious business. You might do it for an album, but only the truly obsessed would do it for a single.

    But all of that assumes that we’d decided to part with our dollars. Until we did, our exposure to the song was limited to radio and TV, and the sound-quality of either was pretty average. Television in those two-channel days (in my state) meant one or two screenings of the video on Countdown. Radio still meant AM, on the whole; superior-sounding FM radio was starting to take off around this time, but roll-out was slow in my hilly area, and the signal was much less reliable. Unless you had a friend who could play you the track on a Walkman, your chances of hearing Trevor Horn’s production to its best effect were limited.

    So we were in something of a catch-22. If we owned the single, we could hear it at its best and be convinced of its qualities; but until we owned the single we couldn’t. If we owned all the many 12″ mixes, we could be convinced that this wasn’t just a song but something so much bigger, a suite of different versions all meshing into something huge; but we couldn’t buy all the different mixes that you could. (A skeptic might view all those different UK releases as a gaming of the charts, but while they must have extended its number one reign, they can’t have been the reason it got there – except in this intangible sense of the song being so much bigger in music-buyers’ imaginations than a four-minute single, which is impossible to quantify.)

    Given that this was the sound of the future, of the wave of electronic dance music that has been washing over us ever since, it’s a shame that the Australian charts couldn’t make more room for it; we were too busy waking up before we went-went. But that’s history, and we can’t rewrite what “Two Tribes” meant to us any more than I can rewrite what it meant to me. Hearing it again now, I want to love it more for everything it represents, but I’ll have to call it 7.

  13. 73
    mike on 14 Aug 2009 #

    While “Two Tribes” was at Number One, I left West Berlin – where I had been living since August 1983 – and returned to Nottingham for one final year at university. My year in Berlin had been a period of absolute freedom, which I knew could never quite be repeated – and so I left the city with a heavy heart and a vague sense of retreat (back to the old campus, the old stamping grounds, the old life).

    My final weeks in Berlin had chiefly been soundtracked by “Two Tribes” and Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” (a massive and ubiquitous hit in West Germany, which I think was 1984’s best-selling single over there). Along with “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” by The Dominatrix, the Top Three in my weekly personal chart (lovingly hand-written, and retained to this day) had remained static for a few weeks – and since I more or less abandoned the personal chart upon returning to Nottingham, there’s a part of me which still thinks they’re sitting there.

    So it’s not just that “Two Tribes” marked the final peak of New Pop – it’s also that it soundtracked the final peak of my carefree, irresponsible, naively bubble-dwelling youth.

  14. 74
    johnny on 14 Aug 2009 #

    #71 – i believe the term you’re looking for is Synethesia. Sound have a visual effect, either mentally or physically. i don’t know too much about it scientifically speaking but, though it is a common feature of autism, it’s possible for the non-autistic to have a lowgrade form of it. personally speaking, it definitely affects the way i hear and play music. hearing a certain song or sequence of chords produces a sort of color wheel in my memory. assuming the sequence isn’t too challenging, it’s very easy for me to walk over to a guitar or piano and reproduce the sequence using this color wheel as my guide. it’s very common among musicians. i’m sure some others here may have a similar ability.

    it’s a bit cliche at this point to say that the quick-cut editing of MTV videos has over time produced a generation which suffers from an exceedingly short attention-span. however, the more i listen to this song and watch its video, it seems that the former is almost taking its cues from the latter. in other words, i get the feeling “two tribes” was composed with a video already in mind and i wonder how common this was by ’84 (the initial awe of MTV still very much a factor in pop music). it seems that many of the tracks we’ve heard in the past year or so (in Popular-time) have featured either a) songs that translate extremely well to music video, or b) songs that seem to be translating video editing techniques into their aural framework. in this way, “two tribes” seems to be more than a song with a video to promote it, more like a multi-pronged Concept (song+video+remixes). i used the word “Event” yesterday but maybe that’s not accurate and possibly cheapens what i meant to convey. videos and songs wouldn’t always be created and marketed this way. the lustre would eventually wear off of MTV, but at this moment i get the feeling many musicans are as excited and inspired by MTV as they would be by some new piece of musical gear or recording equipment.

    sorry that’s a very long and convoluted thought someone else could probably express much more coherently!

  15. 75
    Erithian on 14 Aug 2009 #

    Johnny – yes, the first time I heard the Human League’s “Mirror Man” – “The water shines / A pebble skips across the face a dozen times… ” I could almost see the video. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I ever have seen the video since I was in France at the time.

  16. 76
    swanstep on 14 Aug 2009 #

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXWVpcypf0w
    is the original (no nixon, cruise-missile stuff at the beginning), better (more coherent and violent!) version of the vid., with great audio too (it appears to be ztt’s channel).

    I liked the vid. but don’t remember it (or see it now) as being anything like the tail that wagged the dog (as it were). Rather, it was the entree/taster for the ‘Annihilation mix’:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIi9jMjThGs
    whose bits of reagan-impersonator dialogue were in turn the opening act for all the different slabs of reagan-impersonator discussing che guevara and revolutionary love, and the logic of belligerence, and on and on, in the War cover and all its remixes. Note that War sounded *pretty* awesome even without all the Morleyisms. Check out driving across the judean desert to it here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hgJyS037P8

  17. 77
    Weekend roundup « Paperhouse on 15 Aug 2009 #

    […] I’ve been listening to the first thing Tom Ewing listened to on headphones: “It was the most exciting sound I had ever heard. Still […]

  18. 78
    Steve Mannion on 15 Aug 2009 #

    #74 I like the idea that pop acts were excited about making music videos on this basis. In most cases the videos don’t hold up as they banked mostly on the novelty factor enabling directors to set iconic precedents in the medium which viewers would remember, from MJ’s pavement dancefloor to Run DMC and Aerosmith’s ego war to the hapless CGI grafters of ‘Money For Nothing’ fame – vivid imagery that thu a wilfully nostalgic lens is all treasured by many young enough to accept and appreciate this as a vital part of the pop experience (with TV as much a gateway as the radio…maybe another part of why I disliked ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ during my childhood was that I felt it simply wasn’t true…yet). Imagining most of the successful acts of this time (and pretty much any hereon) without the imagery of their videos is very difficult for me.

  19. 79
    MikeMCSG on 15 Aug 2009 #

    The bass line is copped from “I Feel Love” so it was getting a second airing on a chart topper.
    I seem to remember the band originally wrote this song based on the post-apocalyptic Mad Max 2 and then the lyrics were amended for more topicality.

    I can’t see this as a ten because the song’s a bit of a let down after that fantastic intro but it did stop quite a few crap records (hi Neil) getting to number one !

  20. 80
    admin on 15 Aug 2009 #

    The bass line is copped from “I Feel Love”

    that’s not so clear is it? yeah it’s hi-nrg, but i’ve heard plenty of tracks that do clearly re-use the i feel love bass-line, and this is some way further off. it has a different internal rhythm. ok, so i’m not hot on the technical distinctions and lingo here, but IFL is an even pulse where TT is more quick-slow-quick-slow-y

  21. 81
    swanstep on 16 Aug 2009 #

    The bass part for TT is indeed a strange and wondrous thing: there’s a bit of I Feel Love’s pulse in there for sure (but not nearly as much as in, say, Eurythmics’ ‘Love is a Stranger’ from around the same time), but there’s a lot else going on too. I detect some of the monster opening bass-pattern from Off the Wall’s ‘Get on the Floor’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ierY2nOVX64) as well as some of the awesome bass from Sister Sledge’s ‘Thinking of you’ (So i agree with #80-admin). And, most importantly, the total effect of TT’s bass part is pummelling shock and awe, not sinuous, get down joy (the thing that its important antecedents are beloved for).

  22. 82
    Jonathan Bogart on 16 Aug 2009 #

    Just a note for the relevant eyes: I think the spam-bait in #61 is the use of BBCode rather than HTML tags. I’ve made the same mistake and had posts disappear on me.

  23. 83
    Kat but logged out innit on 16 Aug 2009 #

    The I Feel Love lineage is clear to me – not for the bassline itself but the oscillating synth used to bring it to life. I am an absolute sucker for that sort of thing (see Blog 92 stuff passim but also more recent examples like Roisin’s Overpowered and Robyn/Royksopp’s The Girl And The Robot). But while Robyn and Roisin’s bibblings are wistful daydreaming, Trevor’s tense mechanical buildup (plus Holly’s ringmaster barking) is whipping us up into a frenzied dogfight where the payoff is the bombastic soundtrack to an Eastern Bloc women’s gymnastic team landing their quadruple flip off the vault to score unbeatable, ruthless, terrifying straight-across-the-board 10s. And that’s what score I’d give this song.

  24. 84
    Caledonianne on 16 Aug 2009 #

    Since we’ve been name-checking Ultravox “this means nothing to me”.

    I had a proper job by this time, and I saw all this as commercialised twaddle with an overlay of phoney politics. Didn’t buy in to all the threat of nuclear winter stuff – just saw a government with friends in big armaments looking for cover to pay lots of taxpayers’ big ones to their mates, hence the “protect and survive” hoopla. Maggie and Ron pace the Gone with the Wind pastiche, upping the ante because of the weakness the ongoing Afghanistan adventure had shown in the Soviet armour (though, at the time, we didn’t really understand the extent of the proxy manoeuvres going on there).

    As someone who is fairly political (including three years – much later – as a professional political operative)I think we are having false memory syndrome re the extent to which armageddon seemed imminent to the average Joe. If anything it felt (to me) less precarious than when we were all queuing at draughty church halls to see the banned “The War Game” in the 70s.

    To me this is “boys and toys” writ large, with nothing to say to me, a vaguely compelling rhythm distracting from the abject hollowness of the core. Emperor’s new clothes stuff. The dreary soundtrack of a vapid and dreary decade.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Next?

  25. 85
    Rory on 16 Aug 2009 #

    #84 – We’re not talking about the average Joe, though, so much as the average buyer of chart music, aren’t we? And teenagers aren’t exactly noted for their sunny, optimistic outlook.

    I distinctly remember a long conversation with my parents around this time, probably in ’84, where I expressed exactly these imminent-armageddon fears. Fortunately, by sharing their own memories of the Bay of Pigs era, they persuaded me that it might not happen this time either. Fortunately, too, none of us knew that it almost had happened by accident at least twice in 1983 alone.

    If it’s a false memory in my case, it’s hardly one triggered by Popular; I was writing about it almost a decade ago.

  26. 86
    Caledonianne on 17 Aug 2009 #

    Ach, if teenagers wanted to be gloomy or sad or cynical they should’ve listened to Lenny or Janis or Randy. You know, good stuff. ;-)With tunes, and more than two lines.

    Frankie was a cult. And I’ve always been immune to cult.

    Just wasn’t in the demographic, I guess.

  27. 87
    mike on 17 Aug 2009 #

    Oh, I think that genuine fear of nuclear Armageddon was pretty widespread amongst the teens of 1984, was it not? (Difficult for me to say for certain, being 22 at the time, but subsequent conversation and reading has suggested so.)

  28. 88
    Tom on 17 Aug 2009 #

    I respect yr disdain for all things 80s Caledonianne but the war fear of the 80s certainly wasn’t confined to Frankie. Potential game-changers were:

    – Afghanistan, which wasn’t generally interpreted as ‘weakness’ until the game was much closer to being up.
    – Reagan’s election, and a shift from realpolitik to a much more eyeball-to-eyeball US foreign policy (plus the vaguely patronising fear that he was a doddery old fool who really MIGHT bomb first and ask qns later)
    – Cruise missiles in the UK making us a primary first-strike target (which we were anyway but it brought the danger home a bit more)

    Of course I was an 80s teen so that’s when I was scared, but the above I think are good reasons to think it wasn’t JUST my own perspective that made the danger seem a bit nearer.

    Also “Threads” is way scarier than “The War Game” so there ;)

  29. 89
    ace inhibitor on 17 Aug 2009 #

    “If anything it felt (to me) less precarious than when we were all queuing at draughty church halls to see the banned “The War Game” in the 70s.”

    some of us were watching the – still banned – War Game in draughty quaker halls in 1983… less pedantically, the really big CND demonstrations, in my memory, were in 83/84 – the human chain from greenham to aldermaston, half a million (reportedly) in Hyde Park… nuclear-fear was huge, and not just among adolescents I think

    there’s maybe an echo here I think of the way opposition to the Vietnam war went mainstream in 1970/71, when the numerically biggest demonstrations were, whereas a lot of Movement people would have located the high point of protest as being 67/68 (smaller but more militant).

  30. 90
    enitharmon on 17 Aug 2009 #

    1984 was the year CND’s autumn rally came to Barrow! In order to encircle the Devonshire Dock, where nuclear-powered subs are built. (Now I’m living here in my home town again I feel it’s important to point out that we build the engines, which could be used to power merchant shipping just as easily. The destructive bits are, of course, made at Aldermaston near Reading.)

    Because it was my home town I made a big thing of making sure the St Neots CND branch had a bus going there. Once they arrived, parked on a piece of derelict dockland now occupied by Morrisons and an agreeable waterside promenade but then a bit of a mess, the driver asked when everybody wanted to go home. NOW! they all cried in unison.

    My partner and I sneaked across the Walney Bridge to the Ferry Hotel – quite a good pub in those days, crap now – to spend the afternoon enjoying pints of the sadly defunct Hartleys XB.

    NB – don’t know why I’ve suddenly become enitharmon – should be rosie. Let me check something.

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