Two Tribes – Why I Miss The Shadow Of The Bomb And How Drugs Helped Get Rid Of It


Script For A Jester's Tear. Emo For People Who Are REALLY depressed.

Script For A Jester’s Tear. Emo For People Who Are REALLY depressed.

This recent business with Russia invading Crimea has got me feeling rather nostalgic for the threat of Global Thermonuclear War. Teenagers today think they’ve got angst and self indulgent emotion all wrapped up, but they’ve got nothing compared to what me and my fellow adolescents had back in the early Eighties.

It’s still a lonely existence being a teenager. Even with mobile phones and social media. In many ways because of mobile phones and social media. Loneliness can be thrown into very sharp relief when you’re in the middle of a crowd, whether that’s an online crowd or an actual one.

But loneliness achieves a razor blade edge when you’re stuck in your bedroom with nothing but your own thoughts and The Smiths and Marillion for company. Especially when you know it could all go up in a mushroom cloud at any moment. Which it almost did several times due to political brinkmanship and shonky computer systems.

Having said that, living in the shadow of The Bomb was a hell of an excuse for hedonism. There were a lot of unwanted pregnancies during The Blitz, partly because the people got a lot less fussy in a blackout, but mostly because you don’t reign in your behaviour as much when a bomb could drop on you once the air raid sirens have sounded.

And in the Eighties, you thought a bomb might drop on everyone once the Four Minute Warning was announced. Even if you survived, there would be no one around to judge you and your previous behaviour would be the least of anybody’s worries even if there was.

So, there was a great deal of outrageous behaviour in the Eighties. And violence. Young men would get expensive trainers and Tacchini track suit tops and have fights where they would slice each other up with Stanley knives. Not that slicing each other up was anything new. The razor fight was a grand old British tradition by then. Getting dressed up for it was a novelty though. Where I came from, these young men were called Dressers. In most of the rest of the country, they were called Casuals.


But where this phenomenon really peaked was in the area Football Violence. Highly orchestrated gang fights under the cover of the nation’s favourite sport. And so it continued right throughout the decade. Tribes of young men meeting up and puching, clubbing and stabbing the shit out of each other. Until something very odd happened in 1987. The so called Second Summer Of Love.

Acid House and the Warehouse Rave swept the country, along with a new drug called Ecstacy. Well, actually it wasn’t new. It had first been synthesized in 1912, but no one had found any use for it. They found a use for it in 1987 all right. Young men who had been fighting each other on the terraces a few months before were now dancing and hugging each other in night clubs. Fighting became passé and football violence died out practically overnight.

Then 1989 came. The Berlin Wall fell, and then not long after, the Soviet Union broke up.  The partying nation held its breath. The Cold War was over and we no longer had “Living Under The Shadow Of The Bomb” as an excuse for all our Bacchanalian excesses. Then someone pointed out that the Soviet Union had its missiles stationed all over its empire and that all the rogue states with access to nukes meant that Nuclear Armageddon was an even bigger threat than ever.

So everyone gave a big cheer and carried on partying until 1993. Decades rarely end when the calendar flicks over to a zero at the end of the year. And the inertia of John Major having been Prime Minister for three years is enough to stop any party in its tracks, no matter how raucous. If only we’d known what he was getting up to with Edwina Curry, we might have partied on for another couple of years. Or been instantly sick in the toilets.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013


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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

2 responses to “Two Tribes – Why I Miss The Shadow Of The Bomb And How Drugs Helped Get Rid Of It”

  1. jcckeith says :

    I didn’t grow up in the eighties, unfortunately, it was more early nineties and the US was involved in the Gulf War. I don’t remember any hedonistic behaviors in my fellow teenagers, makes me wish I’d grown up in the early eighties or even in the sixties

    • thedailygrime says :

      Well, it was a party, and like all parties it went on a bit too long and people just got tired of it at the end.At least you don’t have any embarrassing Eighties photos of yourself that old friends and relatives can post on their facebook pages. I just spent most of it studying and going to to rather lame Rock discos if that’s any consolation.

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