Ceiling Stowaway



When we planted time capsules at school in the sixties, I supposed they’d be found by archaeologists working from a moon base, my Tupperware container of newspapers and playing cards still around when some post-Armageddon ape-planet society was in its ascendancy or Batman super-heroes kerpowing their dastardly foes. The romantic idea of hiding possessions to have them re-discovered in the after-life seemed the ultimate boy’s adventure.

So unexpected was the news that while at Faslane visiting a Vanguard Class nuclear submarine and the neighbouring peace camp across the road last week, I heard from home that the builders jack-hammering our kitchen apart had found a faded letter within the false panelled ceiling (now itself mercifully consigned to history).

Dated 5/4/80, a young girl wrote:

“As my father has this strange desire to put a new ceiling in our kitchen in this year AD 1980, he felt the need to ask me to write a little note for the mice to eat in there. However, if the mice have not totally eaten this, you may yet be reading it – if the projected disaster of 1982 and even those for 1999 (from Nostradamus) have not destroyed the world ..”

On the other side, her mother added:

“When I was 18, we were all up in arms about Ban the Bomb and were convinced that there was no point in life because we would all be dead before we were 25. It is important that people think like this because then they can see and fight the dangers .. just hope, watch and fight apathy!”

Easter 1980 and I was probably working the busy day shift at Southend airport having just booked a holiday myself to the Moscow Olympics that coming summer. The USSR had the previous December invaded Afghanistan; the SAS still hadn’t stormed the Iranian Embassy – let alone the beaches of Goose Green; the Millennium was another 2 decades into the future; the Berlin Wall 10 years away from it’s own freelance Kanga crew. In London, a nanny called Lady Diana Spencer zipped through the Hyde Park underpass in her Mini Metro.

Time froze when the letter was entombed in their ceiling to resurface like an A4 stowaway in that submarine almost exactly 10,000 days later. ’80 was still an age of innocence when we thought our way of life was under threat from four fur-hatted Ruskies manning a missile launcher near Minsk, let alone a death-ray called Y2K.

As my own daughter goes about leaving her own artwork and message memento on a soon-to-be covered up wall, we are perhaps leaving our own cavity calling-card, a time capsule for a future family who may have very different worries about survival and health and who will view ’07 as far removed from their lives as a Tudor dynasty.


2 Responses to “Ceiling Stowaway”

  1. I am not sure about this “time capsule thingy”…what if they find out that you were talentless, useless and with no hope…and you had left a legacy based on the opposite…

  1. 1 Afghanistan » Blog Archives » Strategic Communication Plan for Afghanistan

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