This is a bit off topic, but I’ve met some interesting people this week on Minty Films business at the Yesterday’s News exhibition at Platform Southwark and its provoked some thoughts and memories. So in a step away from the usual content – here are some personal thoughts that have been rattling around my brain for the last few days.
I was a teenager in the 1990s. I can remember wearing 10 hole Doc Martens with stickers fixed to the back declaring Kill the Bill on one foot and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament on the other. I wore these boots to tramp around a flooded Glastonbury site and paraded them during the Exodus convoys to the infamous “free parties”. I wore them to Highbury most weeks and school most days and I even wore them to Oasis at Knebworth in the height of summer 96. But most ironically I was wearing them when, in an official capacity, I counted votes at the 1997 general election – although by then the stickers were mostly patches of glue.
I didn’t really understand the detail or importance of either of the protests – it was a cool opinion to go along with and ultimately my simplistic interpretation of the idea that peace and parties should be promoted seemed a good one.
Well 20 years later what are all those people up to that perhaps did know a bit more about those stickers? Some of the people I knew back then, once squatters are now successful artists and set designers. Others, once classmates, are activists, teachers and some are working in marketing.
But those who were a bit older and wiser than I, and had way more protest power than my boot stickers are still fighting & protesting and have set up organisations and charities. This week I was host to Mario Petrucci and Linda Walker MBE at an evening of poetry and discussion about the impact of all things nuclear. It made for shocking listening.
Back in the ’90s (when I was stamping around in those boots) Linda was a serious player and big on the campaigning scene for nuclear disarmament especially in Manchester. While on campaigning duty during a festival she met Adi Roche who was bringing children from Chernobyl to the UK and Ireland for holidays giving them rest and recuperation. Linda very quickly realised the need for more of the same and set up the Chernobyl Children’s Project UK. Her stories of what she found in Belarus are horrendous and deeply disturbing. Children with severe disabilities, children with cancer, a psychological impact that is immeasurable and families despairing and all compounded by a global political rejection of the idea that the nuclear power accident was the cause of any of these problems. In fact today the only official sickness to be recognised as caused by Chernobyl is thyroid cancer.
Images above by Karen J Block as part of a series called Toxic Cloud at the Yesterday’s News exhibition.
It would seem the nuclear lobby is a frighteningly powerful one. I’m not a physicist, doctor or political commentator and even today I’m not sure of the detail so really I’m not qualified to speak about any of this. But after an evening with Linda and Mario I can’t understand why money is being poured into nuclear power when the latest examples of these power stations are overdue, over budget and a big headache. I can’t understand why the subsidies for renewable energy in the UK has been cut yet funds are flowing into a nuclear plan that wont be ready for years when already some countries are producing enough sustainable power through renewables – imagine if that money had gone into to research to work out how to share and store the renewable power. Perhaps I’m missing something. I’m aware of the argument of the globalists who claim we need to have mix of nuclear and renewable, who believe it’s the only sensible solution. But if that’s so then the world needs to face up to the realities of the potential for nuclear disaster and what to do with the waste. The exclusion zone around Chernobyl and Fukushima is ever increasing. With each new generation suffering from radiation illnesses, the strain on the health care institutions as they deal with illnesses never seen before is growing not decreasing with time. And the generation that were locked away in institutions deep in the countryside left to rot as an unpalatable consequence are an inconvenient truth to the nuclear fraternity, but to people like Linda who’ve dedicated their lives to support survivors of Chernobyl they are a stark reminder that today’s nuclear deals are surely a huge and disturbing step backwards.
Images courtest of Karen J Block & Sophie Facuhier
- For more information about the fall out from Chernobyl this report makes interesting reading. http://www.chernobylreport.org/?p=summary
- Here is the official website for the continuing campaign for nuclear disarmament. http://www.cnduk.org/home
- This is a nice little article about the Criminal Justice Act 1994 and the raves and protests. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/anti-rave-act-protests-20th-anniversary-204
- Some music you might like!
- And because at one stage I actually had Lev-ell-ers tippexed on one of those DM boots here’s their Belaruse