This is a fantastic work by Raymond Briggs who is better known for The Snowman, Father Christmas and Fungus the Bogeyman. This is a much darker tale however and probably not for children. It concerns an elderly couple and what happens to them when a nuclear war breaks out.
They take precautions, follow all the government advice and try to do what is expected of them. They soon discover this is nothing like the last war and blind faith and British pluck are no use to them.
This is a sad and moving tale and a very realistic portrayal of the fear of nuclear war that was palpable in the 1980’s. They are a doddery old couple, set in their ways and a bit fluffy in the head but they are so harmless that you love them. You can easily see your grandparents, aunts and uncles or your future self in them and want nothing bad to happen.
There is a bigger picture here. They are called Mr and Mrs Bloggs and are the ultimate everyman showing you the horrors that would befall you if the unthinkable came. What is most impressive is the introduction. There are quotes from newspapers, media personalities of the time and countless members of parliament (including Tony Benn), a couple of peers and a quote from the Hansard when it was raised in parliament. This shows you the impact it had at the time.
If you are under 30 you won’t know what it was like to live under the shadow of the bomb and may miss out on the resonance of this work. Thanks to the skill of the writer you will however experience the sense of growing dread that overtakes Jim and Hilda Bloggs. The art is excellent matching the author’s other books and embodies the twee and pastel quality of rural England. The panels are quite small for the most part with the odd full page drawing for impact. There are also some clever tricks to illustrate the bomb dropping.
A minute’s silent Thumbs Up.
Tomorrow: Green Candles – Tom De Haven