Huw Edwards cried. Bawled like a baby. Near as dammit screamed into the camera.
But his top button remained done up. What a pro.
We all thought old Huw was finally going full Peter Finch on us, though in reality he was simply trying (and failing horribly) to deliver the headline as calmly as he would any other.
“The UK’s economic output shrank for the third consecutive quarter according to figures released today… Flights have been grounded at Heathrow indefinitely following heavy snowfall… Two men have been charged with the fatal shooting of a pensioner.”
“A nuclear weapon has been launched at London, and the country’s missile defences have failed.”
Huw cried because he knew it was already too late for him.
How smug the anti-austerity protesters must have felt marching along Whitehall with their placards, shortly prior to their utter annihilation. If only the defence budget had been ring-fenced, they must have lamented.
Twitter exploded (altogether less literally than Westminster) and the diagram showing exactly which parts of the South East would be respectively incinerated, destroyed, and permanently poisoned with radiation did the rounds on Facebook.
I remember just sitting there in our living room, holding my sister’s hand – oh, the gravity of the situation! – and although our town was a hundred miles clear of the blast radius, there was still a sense that our respective demises had been expedited, that global geopolitics was going to descend into unadulterated, fatal carnage.
Which, of course, it did.
With hindsight, the culpable party was obvious, though unsubstantiated reports flew through every possible medium for weeks after the blast, just as the bombs simultaneously flew through global airspace. Every country from Russia to Cuba to North Korea to Madagascar came in for speculative blame of various degrees, until, in turn, they fell victim to strikes of their own (oh – our country wasn’t special, we were just the first). We know now that our enemies are as good as invincible, though it took years for our leaders to reach this conclusion.
In the meantime, the human race changed fundamentally. Long-termism vaporised along with the bones of those initial victims, and law tore like flesh on shrapnel. We even started to give credence to those perceptive sons of bitches that had been telling us for years that ‘the end is nigh’. People dropped dead from latent radiation poisoning. And the suicides – my God, the suicides were (and still are) relentless. And some people weren’t considerate in the way they did it. An entire family strung up from a bridge sours your day something rotten.
So poor Huw Edwards isn’t missing out on much. There have been no measures of economic output since the demise of fiat currency. Civilian air travel was grounded permanently the day the first bomb dropped. And murder is too common to be newsworthy nowadays.
Yet, in spite of all of this, I’ve heeded that fundamental instinct that tells me to survive.
And I’m still holding my sister’s hand.