On Saturday April 28th 1986, the number 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station suffers a massive steam explosion. The reactor core is exposed and vast amounts of airborne radioactive contamination are released. It’s finally contained on May 4th. At first the Soviet Union attempts to conceal the disaster. Facts are scarce and barely believable.

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What a laugh

It is October 1951. Pip, aged five, is with his mother, Gwen, and his father, Arthur, in the New Theatre at a charity variety show. They are sitting in the front stalls next to the aisle. His parents are smartly dressed and Pip, in short trousers, blue shirt and short sleeved jumper, sits on his mother’s folded up overcoat so that he can see the stage where an aged male comedian is in the middle of his act. 

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John and Rob are eleven and have been saving their pocket money for months. They want to buy two six-guns from the toyshop next to the bus stop they pass each day on the number 46 to school. 

On Saturday the bus has hardly stopped when they jump off. They are anxious. Will the two silver six-guns still be in the window?

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The school run

It’s 1954. Simon, aged eight, stands on the front door step of his house, about to walk to school. His mother, Rachel, holds a large glass jar of brown and white peppermint sweets. On the jar there’s a picture of a grinning boy, his cheeks bulging with sweets. Rachel takes a mint from the jar, unwraps the cellophane wrapper, and pops it into Simon’s mouth saying, It’ll keep you warm on the way to school. They both laugh at this nonsense, but – in a sense – it does just that: her love keeps him warm.

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63 Railway Street is a two-up and two-down terraced house, fourteen bricks wide, occupied by a respectable working class family.

Lily is six and plump, with a round face that speaks of innocence. Her brown tangled hair speaks of her mother’s carelessness, or uninterest. Her family describe Lily as a hunchback because of her deformity. It is a casual defamation.

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The Wall

Edsel is ten years old and visiting his seventy year old grandfather, Hans, in his dilapidated apartment in Berlin. Edsel likes doing this; Hans is full of stories about when THE wall divided Berlin. It’s hard to grasp there was an East and a West and the people in the West were free and those in the East imprisoned, or at least, that’s what his parents have told him. Edsel regrets that his parents work so hard to afford what they call ‘the good things of life’; the benefit is that he spends lots of time with his Grandpa Hanspa. 

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