The literary life of EDWARD JAMES, author,reviewer, occasional poet and former pension adviser to the government of Kyrgyzstan
When I left university I was sure of two things – I would get a job (graduate unemployment was virtually unknown) and there would be a war, a war in which I would serve and almost certainly die.
This was the unspoken thought that lived in every mind, although most of the time we chose not to think about it. At times, however, we thought the unthinkable and sometimes we rehearsed it.
My story on a later page, ‘The War that Never Was’, is about two weeks in the summer of 1959 when I took part in NATO’s annual rehearsal for a nuclear war. It is an absurd story about a ghoulish event. We were rehearsing the obliteration of Moscpw, London and more and everybody was so matter-of-fact, even excited about it.
The tailpiece, about my visit to Poland, is the truth. Both sides were rehearsing the same war at the same time, even predicting the same missile strikes.
Perhaps it was because both sides knew the script that we escaped Armageddon. This year we are remembering the run up to the First World War. That was a war that was rehearsed each year by the Great Powers until it became inevitable. It seems that we do learn –
There is no publishing history to this story, as I have only recently written it.
For my other adventures in the Cold War see https://busywords.wordpress.com/the-nerve-gas-boys