In Living Memory: Post 1960s

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A burning fire.

This is a compendium of memories contributed by H2G2 researchers, in answer to the question What have you done or been part of or been there for?.
The intention was to collect first person stories relevant to global events and those from people's cultures, nations and countries.
This is part 3 of 3 (pre-1960s, 1960s and post-1960s).
There will also be an article entitled Things We Remember for those snippets that didn't fit the description.

The 1970s

January 1972

The Queen Elizabeth Fire

I was living in Hong Kong when we saw a big plume of smoke coming up over the horizon.
We were too far away to see what was causing it, but later in the day, my dad drove us closer to Kowloon, and we were able to see the RMS Queen Elizabeth on fire.
The wreck was always visible above the waterline every time we drove into Kowloon after that.
The wreck was later used as a set for the James Bond film,
The Man With The Golden Gun, which was set partly in Hong Kong.

February 1975

First IRA Ceasefire.

My first time to Northern Ireland. On our way up to the North we had been listening to RTE Radio 1 when it was announced that the first IRA ceasefire would take effect from that midnight.
I wanted us to wait south of the border till midnight, but our parents overruled me.

16 August, 1977

Elvis Dies

We were driving home from a holiday in Wales and stopped at a garage for petrol. There was a woman sitting on the kerb crying her heart out and my Mum went over to see if she could offer help or comfort. When she got back she told us that Elvis had died - which didn't really mean anything to us.

The 1980s


Embrace the Base (Women's peace protest at Greenham Common to mark the third anniversary of the NATO decision to deploy cruise missiles in Europe).

I was 11, first big demo that I had been on and I was a little in awe of the hugeness of it all.
Very colourful event, lots of music. Holding hands, unpicking the fence and being very scared when a woman made it through and was tackled to the ground and given a hefty boot. That was the first time that I had ever been in close proximity to people with weapons.
Overall though, I just remember being happy, excited, inspired and singing loads.

15/16 October, 1987

The Hurricane

A chunk of oak tree fell on our house.

18 November, 1987

Fire at King's Cross (London Underground rail station.)

I was living somewhere near the top of the universally loved and adored (ho ho) Northern Line, and had arranged to meet a friend there. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go and not being able to contact him on the phone, another friend went to meet him for a drink instead.
I was in bed watching the TV, when the first reports of the fire at Kings Cross came on , and realised my two friends were supposed to have met at roughly that time.
I broke out in a cold sweat of panic and guilt, and later, when the male friend phoned to say that my other friend hadn't turned up, I was frantic.
Luckily, this was a joke, and both were fine. They had met at the top of the escalator just as the smoke started to get bad.
Their "joke" didn't go down well at my end to say the least, but I was just grateful that they were safe.
Unfortunately 31 other people weren't so lucky.

9 November, 1989

The Berlin Wall coming down.

Telling both children "Remember this, it's living history" and "History was always much like this at the time".
'Twas ever thus.

A little later:

Eldery couple from Over There (when money exchange rates were still piratical), on a bench in Hanover, sharing a 1,50 Deutschmark walkaway pizza that had probably cost them a week's pension.
I have hardly ever felt so ashamed in my life for always having been relatively rich.

The 1990s


The Iron Lady Exits

I remember being on a train to Wales in 1990 (to celebrate Hogmanay with a friend) when it was announced that M Thatcher had left the building.
Oh, the joy in that carriage was amazing – a huge cheer went up when someone announced it. That put the cherry on the topping of that New Year's celebrations for me.


The Bombing of Baghdad

Listening to the bombing of Baghdad in 1991. I was in my final year of university and doing my usual ritual of news, shipping forecast, sleep ... not that night.
That was of course also the night we were introduced to the concept of a 'rolling news' service, as normal radio 4 was shifted either to FM only or LW only, can't remember which, and the other frequency had non stop news – or, as it rapidly became, 'rolling speculation'.

6 September, 1997

Diana's Funeral

Althorp is just down the road and the Royal Family travelled to my local railway station on the day, so several local roads were closed and somewhere in the house I have the road closure order that was pinned up on the lamppost nearest our house.

Late 1990s?

Working The Bog

Rearing turf sods into footings to dry, bringing them home to store: fuel for the winter.
I've done that every year, but I don't think it'll be happening for much longer.
We'd often listen to the radio out there. RTE Radio 1 – the only programmes that stay on my mind from those summer days on the bog are the long aftermath of the Omagh bombings.

11 August, 1999

The Solar Eclipse

I was on Plymouth Hoe for the 1999 Solar Eclipse – the next total eclipse won't be here for almost another century (2090).
Seeing the shadow come across the sea at you and swoop overhead and the light just evaporate and you were in darkness (and bizarrely, flashbulbs) – it was terrific.

Late 1990s

Nearing an end.

My mother nearing her own 90s, travel over, peering through the mists towards her end (though it was five years or more before her wish was granted).
Watching her making one final preparation: systematically going through her diaries (5-year ones for as long as I could remember), reading a page, perhaps pondering a moment, tearing it out and shredding it.
Nothing I could say dissuaded her...
She'd lived in Uganda for 15 years or so, from 1950, as the wife of a senior company manager.
However much trivia or personal stuff, there must have been many gems in there... the End Of Empire...

The new millennium

2001 Sept 11


My mother had been out with a friend. When the friend dropped her off, I ran out to tell them, "Two planes have flown into the World Trade Centre; the Pentagon's on fire and they've evacuated the White House."

There'll be no more memories of:

Visits to the cockpit (for some time, at least).
New Millennium (for most of us anyway...)

Though there may be:

The first human on Mars, Venus...
News of Trade (or World Government) finally stopping Wars.
...or even Elvis and Mrs T being cloned.

Articles by Rod Archive

RodtheBrit with Various Contributors

08.02.10 Front Page

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