In 1981 I moved with my family to a semi rural area located in the West Midlands. It was sold to us as a “village with modern amenities”. It had a post office, a doctor`s surgery, a village hall, a Pub, a school and a residents committee. I remembered that amongst this relative modernity there was a quaint English village steeped in tradition. The villagers lived as all English village dwellers would, they would cycle to Evensong and watch cricket with a glass or two of warm beer.
This homeliness was on a knife edge. It looked as if this picture of rural idyll was close to being shattered. The political and social changes that were reverberating through the country were edging ever nearer to home. This threatened the decade long peace which we had enjoyed and expected. The calm which once blanketed the sleepy neighbourhood was turning into a state of fraught anxiety.
The Falklands war was a tense conflict which resolved itself after ten weeks of combat, but two years later when the miners went on strike civil war almost erupted. Police officers from our village were enlisted to quell it. This was the year in which I learned to be vigilant of danger and consequently feel afraid. Public information films alerted me to this, often in the form of cartoons. Most of the animation was in an eerie shade and combined with the bold graphics only served to intensify my fear.
I remembered that there was a year in which an alarming number of children had gone missing. Their haunted portraits were on display in shop windows. I wasn`t sure how they could have vanished just like that and I pondered about their fate. I was too young to understand what death really meant, but I had a horrible feeling that they would never come back. I wondered how long I would survive when I was feeling so frightened all of the time.