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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Your 80s: The nuclear threat
CND march in London, 1983
Support for CND grew
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s and continue this week with the 80s.

It was the decade of spend, spend, spend, for some of 80s Britain.

But deep insecurities were being sown in people's minds as tensions between East and West heightened.

Here is a selection of your comments.


You haven't mentioned one of my abiding memories of the 80s, the so-called second Cold War. I was seven in 1980, so they were a formative time. I remember as I grew through my teenage years of having very real fears that the superpowers would end up unleashing their terrible weapons upon one another either by accident or on purpose. Additionally with the famines in Cambodia and Ethiopia sitting alongside the conspicuous wealth creation out of nowhere of the liberalised casino capitalism of the city I became aware that the world really was defined by our rules and that that wasn't really fair at all.
Michael Carey, London

OTHER 80s MEMORIES
As a schoolgirl in the early 80s, the overwhelming threat - in my mind- was of nuclear war. I remember reading "When the Wind Blows" by Raymond Briggs and watching Reagan and Thatcher on the news and being genuinely scared, as were all my friends, that there would be a sudden newsflash and we would be told that a four-minute (or was it three-minute?) warning was about to start... ironically, my mum wouldn't let me stay up late to watch the special screening of the video to "Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood as she thought it would scare me.
Avy, Leicester, UK

In 1980 the Americans elected Ronald Reagan. Ronald McDonald would have been a more credible choice as far as the Brits were concerned. For most of the decade the skies darkened as this clapped-out actor's film script rhetoric led the Soviets to believe that the US was planning a pre-emptive strike. Fear that the world would soon end in nuclear war was real, and in Britain we felt close to the frontline. I remember books on building fall-out shelters, the film "The Day After" on TV, CND badges, the women's camp at Greenham Common and rumours of missile convoys travelling country roads by night. Meanwhile arms talks were cancelled because of something Nancy Reagan's astrologer said. The tension eased somewhat when Mr Gorbachev came to power. He seemed decent, intelligent and sane compared to the sun-fried Californians.
George Lee, Vancouver, Canada ( ex- Letcombe/Wantage, Berks)

I remember a leaflet coming through our letterbox, I think it was called "Protect and Survive" giving advice about what to in the event of nuclear attack by the Warsaw Pact, it had diagrams and information about what to do with dead family members bodies in your house, it frightened the life out of me and I hid under my blankets when I went to sleep for about six months, waiting for the missiles to drop on my house and melt my Star Wars toys. It brought home a reality that even though there was no actual fighting going on, there was actual danger to us in the UK.
Justyn Taylor, Cardiff

I remember being taken along to numerous CND demos as a child / teenager. Although only young I was aware of the threat of nuclear war. We spent our Saturdays linking hands around RAF airbases or marching from Embankment to Hyde Park in London! It wasn't all doom and gloom though. These were the teenage years where I read Smash Hits, became a Durannie whilst some of my friends were Whammies! We went to roller discos and wore legwarmers, emulating the stars of Fame. My predominant memory of the 80s is the music. From new wave, New Romantics through to the Madchester scene.
Caroline Bradby, Redhill, Surrey

As a teenager in the early 80s there was an intense awareness of the Cold War. Every move of the Kremlin was watched by the media at the time, should some crisis in Central America or the Middle East ignite World War Three. Ronald Reagan was the president, talking of the evil empire, and spending huge sums on the military. Cruise missiles were being delivered to Greenham Common and Molesworth to much protest at the time. As an adult now, you can appreciate the doctrine of "outspending, outperforming" the communist bloc which in the end hastened its demise. But at the time, watching the Soviet soldiers marching through Red Square in front of Brezhnev, you did wonder what might happen.
Jamie, Leeds

I went from age 12 to 22 during the 80s and I remember the first part of the decade as a mix of riots, unemployment, AIDS, war and nuclear paranoia. Anyone who tries to tell you that we spent the decade with an asymmetric haircut, wearing legwarmers and doing the Rubik cube is lying. While Thatcher did her thing, Reagan escalated the cold war and kept us all on edge. I still have a nagging resentment about the Thatcher legacy, but it is hard to imagine going back to just BT and for our home phone.
Nigel, London





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