Well, at least there’s one good thing about the threat of nuclear Armageddon; it isn’t half inspiring. I mean – the cover art on this pamphlet drew me in immediately.
Fabulous graphics! I found it on the floor of one of the rooms in my late aunt and uncle’s house whilst having a final look around on Friday before the house clearance people come. It was next to a copy of this, a little bit of light reading from 1948:
and some other literature which I just had to save – like this (far more cheerful) 1951 programme from the Folies Bergère.
I can’t resist this kind of ephemera, I love the history as well as the aesthetics, the connection to an intriguing past I don’t know. But the ‘Death Stands At Attention - A Protest against the H Bomb Tests’ leaflet – created and distributed 60 years ago (and what have we learned?) - seems particularly, chillingly, apposite for today. Click on images to enlarge for reading, if you dare.
Not that I’m wanting to dwell on it, but the idea of nuclear holocaust has been prominent in my psyche before now – if you were hanging around in the anarcho punk scene with Crass and Flux of Pink Indians in the early 1980s, as I was, it was pretty much mandatory. However, perhaps one of the most haunting and memorable tunes to come out of the doom and gloom of imminent radiation poisoning was from a far more melodic post-punk band, the Scars.
There was something really charming about the Scars. They formed in Edinburgh in the late ‘70s, recorded a session for John Peel in 1980 and a second one in 1981, when they also made just one album, Author! Author! It was a great album, but sadly the following year the band ceased to be and there were no more releases.
I remember listening to Author! Author! and in particular this song (first put out as a flexi disc that came free with the style magazine, i-D) and really getting the heebie-jeebies; it still sounds incredibly disturbing now. But proof that the prospect of the end of the world is, as I said earlier, very creatively inspiring, so it's not all bad, eh - every mushroom cloud has a silver lining. I just hope with all my heart that this post isn’t too what you might call... erm... 'timely'.
The Scars: Your Attention Please