THE GREEN DIARY : Tuesday, 5 May 2020.

Notes from the Country

On Friday it is the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. A momentous event. 

Yesterday was supposed to have been the May Bank Holiday Monday but we are still in Lockdown and it was decided to swop VE Day with Monday Bank Holiday, I’m not entirely sure why because nothing is different on either day except that one marks a momentous event.

We are in a momentous event at present and next Sunday 10th May, we will be told what the next steps in this catastrophic situation will be. I am betting nothing will change and we will still not “flatten our death curve”!

I don’t know what to think. Do we trust our leaders? Do they know what they are doing? I don’t think so, especially over the pond in the U.S.

I try sometimes to imagine what exactly Trump and his cronies actually do when they sit around having coffee and deciding things. Do you think they just casually suggest ideas, like detergent, in informal meetings backstage? Do they think we are really that stupid? Evidently, yes, certainly in large parts of America. The total tripe that Trump utters, a child with a modicum of education can see is nonsensical and yet do his “advisors” step in to say anything? No, they don’t. How can scientists like Fauci and Birx sit by in silence while this irresponsible maniac applies a wrecking ball to literally everything.

And then there are the Pandemic deniers who are quite happy to see millions die so long as American Capitalism survives! Its breath taking. They clearly have the ear of this mad president.

How can this man and many others like him be allowed to go unchallenged? An angry old man ignorant; a self righteous fool who has access to some sort of TV audience.

But here the sun shines and we walked for an hour through bluebells and buttercups; through the woods and by the lake. Bucolic is the word. Towards the end of the walk we emerged onto the Mistley playing fields where you can see, because I will publish some pictures to show you, one of the new Old Age centres going up. We seem to have a lot of them around here!

This one looks like an oversized rail freight car, gerry-built on old Ministry of Defence property bordering the woods and our playing fields; but it’s the nuclear bomb shelter that has always amazed us and which is now, can you believe, part of the property; indeed, they appear to be building a swimming pool, gym and sports centre in there.

This bomb shelter is amazing. It was built in the 1950’s at the height of the cold war as part of a chain of shelters to house VIP’s and “indispensables” in the event of nuclear attack, from north east Essex in an arc across the county to London. 

They largely went forgotten. Nobody in Mistley knew about this bunker when we first came here. It was next to an allotment, enclosed in barbed wire, largely overrun by brambles, at the back of the village. 

On the playing fields with the low bulk of the bunker visible under the tower in the background. These are part of the Mistley playing fields.

It was rediscovered eventually and in true English style had a preservation order slapped on it; it became a “Listed Building”, though it is completely useless. They tried turning into a museum which is when we went down it.

It is enormous. Only a tiny part of it is above the earth. It has an antennae tower and small chimney  on top both still there today. 

It descends into the earth, a warren of airless, pre-stressed concrete rooms at least five floors down; blast proof doors everywhere and in an enormous chamber, like an old James Bond film set, is a command centre. It was dusty and dank and filled with Bakelite telephones, plotting screens, army-issue desks, chairs, bunks, tables; teleprinters in rows silent and paperless. Here was the nerve centre of the whole operation; it was spooky, clammy, claustrophobic and utterly depressing.

In one corner was a special contraption on pulleys that could be hauled up to the rooftop outside in the special chimney, and any radiation levels measured. 

The MOD gave it up as a museum and sold it off and it has lain for years derelict until new interest was show by the plethora of housing development companies that have sprung up along the line between Harwich and London. 

Was it because it was listed or because it was indestructible that this ghastly edifice has been left to decorate the garden of  these flats for the elderly? Is the bunker Coronavirus proof I wonder? 

Sorry, that was facetious! 

But we have been told that it would need a lot of dynamite to commit this icon of  a frightening age to oblivion.

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