The longer you live , the more you realise that everything is connected and anything is possible ….If you wait long enough….
Anyone growing up as a child in the 1950s was on the cusp of experiencing some of the most traumatic and dramatic social experiences of any generation. In Norneverland you would have entered your teens in time to become a “real” first generation proper teenager with all new fashions, magazines and music instead of your father and mother’s hand -me-downs .You would also have grown up through the Cold War and the Space Race and would have seen a man landing on the moon for the first time, live on television.Most homes had one of those boxes in the living room by that time.Of course we were teenagers just in time to experience the mad beginnings of “the Troubles” too. That wasn’t too pleasant and sort of happened live on the streets alongside normal everyday life . It became almost normal after a while as reality was gradually twisted out of shape. We almost got used to it.
Before all that though, we saw the Russians getting Sputnik into space and we craned our necks to watch for the shiny satellite passing overhead.Yuri Gagarin became a world hero but the Russians were feared, mostly.When John F .Kennedy , President of the USA faced down Nikita Khrushchev over the Cuban Missile Crisis,we held our collective breath.It was a formative moment for a generation, hardly forgotten over fifty years later , when the lot of us believed we were on the very edge of the Last World War. …..ever…People really were very afraid.
I can still remember, as a ten-year old , being instructed at school to pray for help in this crisis. Obviously we were all told to pray for JFK. He was a “Good Irishman “, almost a latter-day saint ,back then, so we were on his side.It made perfect sense .If all these adults were squeezing their buttocks in fear , it must be serious .They couldn’t figure it out with politics , so they’d resorted to prayer and the more praying …well …the merrier.The idea of the Russians launching missiles from Fidel Castro’s Communist Cuba , a mere ninety miles off the coast of America, had certainly concentrated minds .
it turned out to be a false alarm but the fear was real enough.It was real enough to produce some of the best anti-war songs of the decade from Mr Bob Dylan , for example.He wasn’t on his own either.It was the beginning of youth mistrusting their elders with the levers of power.
That was it for Cuba for fifty years , though.There was talk of a plot to assassinate Fidel with an exploding cigar.Rumours were afoot that the Cubans had killed Kennedy in 1963.Generally Cuba was left to wallow and simmer in its own juices.It produced great cigars , music and culture but it was left to rot away under communism and America made sure investment and help were not going to be on the agenda.
Now there is rapprochement .History was made today as President Obama declared that this Cold War was officially over.The cynics might say that it’s hardly coincidental that with the war on terrorism in full swing , America needs to have a friendly neighbour at its back door but look what ‘s happening in Russia too.As sanctions begin to bite and Putin ‘s power base is squeezed, the lesson being put forth is that it is better to be America’s friend and ally rather than its foe. I wonder is the timing coincidental . These things are rarely accidental.Watch out for American investment money being pumped into Cuba in the coming days while Russia is squeezed even further.
It only took fifty years for Cuba to be invited back into the fold, so anything is possible, eventually.Maybe even a proper solution to the problems of Norneverland .It only takes a little patience .In the meantime , sit back, relax….. have a cigar….