I remember it as yesterday’s events, the time a Russian Bomber flew over our house in 1981. It was in the days of the Cold War, a time of fear for Russians in the West. Nuclear war heads were aimed at the West in the CCCP, American nuclear rockets were aimed back in places in the West. Threats to use them were being made by both.
As children we were taught at school and told by parents that the Russians were an evil lot and that they would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons to take over the world. And, as we were children, we believed them.
Usually when a commercial airliner came over at a lower altitude we went outside to look up on a nice day. And this time the sky was blue, not a cloud in sight. But this one was louder, the whistling noise of the turboprop engines was so unrealistic that this particular Wednesday afternoon we didn’t even bother asking permission to leave the table at lunch time, we just flew outside to see for ourselves what was the cause of this strange sound.
And there it was, the big bright red star on the large upright tail wing distinctively visible. And then it went over the edge of the roof of the next row of terraced houses. Two large thundering bangs followed, rumbling like thunder after lighting except this time there was a clear blue sky and it was Spring. Two Starfighter jet fighters came over and we went outside again only to find out we were too late to see them. Later we heard the two bangs were those jets going supersonic to tell that Russian bomber it was time to go home.
The next day at school it was the talk of the day, teachers explaining it was just a provocative act of the Russians and that they weren’t thinking right, telling us that we should be at guard as a nation not to let this happen again. A lot of the lessons in those days were about politics, about the threat of a nuclear war and East versus West.
Years later the Cold War ended, how we didn’t know, we were children and not experts about grown up matters such as politics. We were just told to be afraid of the Ruskies and we were. A little. We went on with whatever it was we were doing in those days, skate boarding, school, playing in the fields, model railways. And we forgot about the incident.
Until recently, rumours in the news about Russian bombers intruding in our air space. Only this time they are not the Bears from those days anymore but Blackjacks entering British skies and being scared off by Typhoon jet fighters. Same thing really, but faster I suppose. Should we be afraid again I ask myself? Not really, except that I have the same gut feeling I had when that Bear flew over our house in 1981. But we’re grown ups now, we know how to put it all in perspective.
We are not afraid of the Russians anymore. I do hope however they will be acting more like children rather than grown up adults. Children do not create war. Or fear. They may be trespassing at times but they do as they are told when they get sent back to their homes. Like in that song by Sting: I hope the Russians love their children too.
Go home Russians, light up the fire place, lay the lunch table like you don’t care. Love your children. Tell them not to be afraid. We do the same.