You have no items in your cart. Want to get some nice things?Go shopping
Molly and Martin were stretched out on my bed, her arms around Martin’s neck, her head resting upon his chest. Beneath them, I spread myself across the floor, propped up on pillows, our eyes on the twelve-inch black and white portable TV screen. We watched as the two fake pugilists – Ronnie Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko – circled and mocked, sparred, boxed and wrestled each other inside a cockfighting pit, egged on by a hyped-up crowd, the bass line’s incessant punch filling the bedroom, a voice warning of how best to survive the inevitable Armageddon…
When you hear the air attack warning, you and your family must take cover.
During the days following Channel 4’s airing of the full, uncut Two Tribes video, we’d sit late into the night inside the abandoned refrigeration factory at the back of our estate and talk of what we’d do in the event of a nuclear strike. At such times, the old workers’ canteen felt like our very own fall-out shelter.
An inner refuge.
Inside the building’s crumbling facade, we felt far removed from the inevitable outbreak of World War Three. Although we could readily imagine our mutually assured destruction with the press of a single red button somewhere far, far away – leaving our ghostly dust shadows splayed across the walls like ancient cave paintings.
Inside our bunker, illuminated by candles stolen from the local church, we nursed our fears on small blasts of Red Leb and swigs of cheap cider. Most of the lads agreed, in the event of an air attack siren, they’d run outside and shag the nearest girl. Any female would do. To our minds, at least, the imaginary women would consent to a final, three-minute fuck, sparing us the indignity of a virginal demise.
After our childish remarks, the lovers would speak. Molly looked to Martin, Martin looked back to Molly. They’d run away together, they’d say; flee as far as they could. Somewhere like The Lakes. Molly had been there on a school trip. Was perfect, she said. Remote, agreed Martin. They’d try and defy the odds. Withstand. Die together if they must.
A few weeks later, with Two Tribes holding its position at number one in the charts, they vanished. Just as the whispers around school had predicted.
Pssssst! Pass it on: Molly and Martin are running away. Don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret.
The words moved from desk to desk, around the school and back again like a chain reaction. Until the rumour returned from where I’d set it off.
Molly and Martin are running away.
I know! I know! I already know. I’m their best friend, aren’t I? Tell the world, why don’t you!
They’d bunked off school Thursday afternoon to complete preparations. Martin wasn’t in class the next day, either. Molly’s absence was noted too. They had the whole weekend to get themselves clear. They had a fighting chance.
Molly and Martin are running away…It returns to me now like a long-forgotten refrain. Or the opening line of a schoolgirl’s skipping game in which the singers swear to hold on to their secrets as tightly as the rope in their hands.
All promises are made to be broken and their planned escape from nuclear annihilation reached a teacher’s ear. Everybody agreed, somebody had confided in someone, who told somebody else, who couldn’t hold their own water.
The rat had to be exposed.
The next Monday, the lovers were marched back to school by their embarrassed parents. The hunt for the grass, the big mouth who couldn’t keep their nose out of other people’s business, continued for weeks afterwards. Throughout the summer, the finger-pointing and backbiting bled its poison deep into our shelter, and our final school year together unravelled all our friendships like the forced undressing of soiled bandages. Molly and Martin’s love, once as certain as sunset, unable to survive the fall-out.