Thursday, 10 July 2014

Title: (There Was No Monkey Bite) When Two Tribes Go to War: Part Three

Title: (There Was No Monkey Bite) When Two Tribes Go to War

Part Three

The day president Reagan was shot the world was plunged into uncertainty. Joe and Issy were glued to the TV patiently waiting for news of the shooting.

“Maybe it’s a good thing… if he dies. I don’t mean it like that, but he was sounding like he was ready to go to war with Russia. I don’t wish him dead.”

But, part of him did wish him dead. He saw the expression of shock and disbelief on Issy’s face as he said what he felt. The stress of living in constant fear, was taking its toll, it was making Joe sound just as mad as they were.

“You don’t mean it, Joe? Do you…,” Issy asked.

“Stress and fear can make you say stuff Issy…when you really don’t mean it,” he replied.

It can also make you do things totally out of character. Joe remembered, reading about how soldiers under extreme stress can go crazy and become a killing machine. They become addicted to killing, as a junkie is to heroin. It’s not just pulling that trigger. There is that trigger point in all of us that can send you over the edge. And when that happens there is no going back. He was at that edge, a tipping-point.

“What are you thinking?” Issy asked.

“Listen…I hope it’s not another conspiracy like the Kennedy assassination. They reckon the Russians were behind that one,” he snapped.

Joe and Issy sat there, their eyes glued to the TV waiting for news about the shooting; it was a day that they would never forget.

You remember what and where you were, the day you hear a president has been shot, and everybody says that, Joe was thinking, while listening to the TV news.

“President Reagan has been shot and is in a critical condition… he was shot by a lone gunman while attending…,” the TV commentator announced.

“Doesn’t sound good, for Reagan,” Issy said crying.

“Oh, it’s a terrible shame. There are some mad people in this world. What do you think, Joe?”

“It only takes one.”

“We’ll have to see, what happens…maybe he’ll make it, Issy. Who knows?”  Joe said without conviction.

The TV news broadcasts were sketchy about details, but it did not look good. Reagan was an old man. Would he survive? Joe was thinking and I guess Issy was thinking the same, and most likely the rest of the world was thinking the same. Anyone that is shot is not going to be up for much. A few millimetres here or there, and it could mean life or death.

Click Below and Listen

President Reagan did survive, and as the decade progressed the newspaper headlines were about major unrest and violence in the Middle East, the Iran-Iraq war, the Soviet-Afghan war, the 1982 Lebanon war, and the bombing of Libya in 1986 in response to the terrorist attack on Pan Am 103. 

The tension eased somewhat when Mr Gorbachev came to power he appeared decent, intelligent and sane compared to Reagan. It came to be called the late 1980’s ‘purple passage’ of the autumn of nations. In the end there was no monkey bite, as Joe had feared. He remembered, reading how a monkey bite had started a world war.

By the end of the decade, with the break-up of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union declared an end to political hostility and the Cold War.

It’s now 2011, forget about what they say about the 1980’s as if all we cared about was ‘loads of money’, the latest haircut and who was wearing what. It was a decade of fear brought about by the rhetoric of Margaret Thatcher and her alter ego Ronald Reagan, who were war mongers, who scared the shit out of millions of people.

I was 10 as the 80s ended, and my dad told me what he remembered about the first part of the decade, as a mix of riots, unemployment, AIDS, war and nuclear paranoia. Anyone, who tries to tell you that they spent the decade with an asymmetric haircut, wearing legwarmers and doing the Rubik cube is lying, my hair was always plain and simple and while Thatcher did her thing, I did mine. I still have a nagging resentment about the Thatcher legacy though, but it is hard to imagine going back to just British Telecom and our big red brick phone again.

Oh, by the way, my name is Fran, the daughter of Issy and Joe.

P.S. Sponsored by Madbrokes a comedian on antidepressants.


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