I recently watched the 1959 film Behemoth The Sea Monster having found a television channel called Talking Pictures.
Now you may well ask “so what?”
Well the last time I watched the film was in 1960 shortly after it was released and when I was only 11 years of age.
The circumstances were these.
In 1959 the family left our home in Abingdon and boarded the SS Dunera in Southampton along with the families of the majority of the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment to travel to Cyprus where we lived until 1961.
Our dad at the time was a Colour Sergeant in 2 Para and he and the regiment were posted to Cyprus to fight against who at the time were called the EOKA terrorists.
To cut what could be a long story short every Saturday night there was an open air film show for the battalions families that took place in Polemedia Barracks.
You may be wondering how was it possible to hold a film show for the families of those who were hunting and fighting terrorists?
Well the answer – which will surprise many given what is currently happening across the world – is that the fight was between the members of EOKA and the British State, families were exempt.
As a ten year old I had a routine on film nights which was to get two large very cold bottles of Coke and when I say bottles they were glass ones taken straight from the refrigerator, and find somewhere to lie down to watch the film.
I was also (in fact I still am) someone who was happy to suspend reality and just be absorbed by the story as it unfolds, an absorption that has been spoilt by modern television and being able to read exactly what it is about before it even starts.
I remember all those years ago how frightening the prospect was that living at the time when atomic and then nuclear weapons were throwing mushrooms of ever increasing size into the air the dangers (to an eleven year old) of atomic marine tests resurrecting a dormant sea monster was very real.
Yes I remember being frightened by the film.
Watching it today of course it makes me smile for a number of reasons.
Seeing motorcyclists riding without a care in the world or wearing a helmet, drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts, mainly of course because they didn’t exist.
Coal powered steam ships and ferries scurrying along the River Thames and the ‘smog’ pollution hanging over London.
Oh! for the gentler time of the possibility of the world being devoured by a bloody big atomic radiation monster in which the men irrespective of the situation all wore ties, pyjamas and dressing gowns, with silk ones for the nobs and woollen for the working class proles.
To see all the working class women wearing a wrap around pinny just like grandma used to wear and when leaving the house wearing a headscarf and carrying a handbag the size of a suitcase.
And what did we send to confront such a devastating monster …. the army armed with World War 2, .303 rifles and what an earth were the matelots doing facing a radiation threat wearing nothing but their number one uniform complete with collar, silk and lanyard?
Anyway alls well that ends well and I’ve managed to survive the trauma of watching “The Biggest Thing Since Creation! The Giant Behemoth” some 59 years on and leave you with this thought…
Where was Doctor Who when you needed him?
NB.. Doctor Who didn’t arrive on earth until 1963 four bloody years too late.