“A warning may come quite unexpectedly. We will now tell you what to do if a warning sounds when you are at home, and then we will explain what to do if you are out of doors.
First, if you are at home. If attack is imminent you will hear the attack sound like this”
I grew up under the constant worry and threat of nuclear annihilation, the haunting synthesizer sound of the Protect And Survive jingle burnt into my brain. The sound of the oncoming Armageddon a familiar one through TV. A sound a little too close to the sirens I’d hear every other day.
I lived pretty much down the road from the bright lights of a three-mile stretch of industry. Oil, chemicals and who knows what else worked on, worked with along the one stretch of road. The chimneys, the towers, the pipes, the stench. The sort of place where you could easily forget the sky was blue as you sat looking up at the smoke pumping its way into the atmosphere.
Dark clouds and illnesses just hung over you, that’s how it was.
The switch turns to off and everybody sleeps. Forever.
It’s about as far away from the Radio 4 ideal of Rapture’s Yaughton as can be but I get it. I get the fears Rapture played on. I had that fear.
I’m not sure it ever left me, either. Difficult for it to, really.
When the most reassuring thing your teacher at school tells you is that if the bomb drops, when the bomb drops, you’ll be one of the lucky ones because it’s highly likely you’ll be at the epicentre of the blast.
One of my biggest hopes growing up was that if I died, if anyone died, at least it’d be over in seconds and I’d never get to see the world after the bomb. It’d be quick.
In my dreams death was a flash of light then silence. No pain, no cancers, no survival. Just light then peace. The switch turns to off and everybody sleeps. Forever.
It got me through the days. Deep down, you know it doesn’t work like that but no-one wants to think of the alternative. Especially when you’re a kid.
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is a comfort, a reassurance. Yaughton is the village that exists to make the dream real. Mostly. Like the dream, there’s wrinkles. Sure, there’s a flash of light then poof it’s over but there’s the headaches, the tumors, the bleeding. The tissues on the tables a reminder that it’s not so clear-cut, the reality creeps in as it surely would.
But there’s that hope.
Hope that folks can go about their life, their relationships, their squabbles and all the things that occupy us day in day out.
The mix of selflessness and selfishness that is us, the “what it is to be human” for real, wrapped up in the mundane, wrapped up in each other carries on right until the bright light consumes.
the reality creeps in as it surely would.
And when the light comes, what we have built lives on after we’re gone. The traces and remnants of our existence still there, maybe for someone else to stumble on, to stumble into.
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture made me cry because I know that’s not entirely how it works. I know Yaughton can’t be real. I know it’s a dream and that death and being close to death is messy, horrible, the death of someone you love never stops hurting. It’s not a flash of light and then peace.
I also know that Rapture gets that one thing so right. What we build for ourselves lives on, we live on in the memory of those who care for us.
You gotta make that count, y’know?