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Mother and me: a cold war boyhood

Kershaw, Roy
Format: Paperback
Publisher: self published (N/A)
ISBN: 9781517347536


The ’50s / ’60s witnessed the heights of the Cold War between Communist and Capitalist Nations. For the son of a communist Weavers’ Union leader father and radical mother, it was a difficult period. The Media constantly attacked communism with accusations of political strikes, support for colonial revolutionary movements and perpetuation of the nuclear arms race; communists were continually vilified. ‘Reds under the Bed’ was the cry. Being the first in my family to go to grammar school, I faced animosity from pupils and teachers alike. In the ’50s the world map seemed to be turning Red. More regimes embracing communism, Russia leading the space race, success in the Olympics, apparently showed the superiority of socialist ideology. But it was illusory. Fall of the Berlin Wall in ’89 heralded the collapse of communism, finalised by dissolution of the Soviet Union in ’91 and disbanding of the UK Communist Party in the same year. Despite it being discredited, mother and father clung to communist ideology. To them communism was as much a religion as a political system. Defying increased evidence of its failure, they still retained ‘faith’ in socialist ideals. Father died ’85, avoiding much of the calamitous end of communism. Mother died ’91, cutting herself off from the real world, unable to face almost total disintegration of her ‘Utopian Vision’. The period also witnessed huge social and cultural changes, particularly for the working class. Increased prosperity and advances in technology and science, led to teenagers breaking free from previous generations in fashion, leisure pursuits, music and sexual mores. Mother resisted these changes, clinging to impossibly high social and cultural norms leading to clashes between a highly principled mother and a son eager to taste the fruits of a more permissive society. A ‘relationship cold war’ was added to the ‘political cold war’.

Roy Kershaw

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