Category Archives: uk

Rabies – Don’t smuggle Death (1970’s)

At the tender age of 7, I found myself on an unexpected adventure one Sunday night / Monday morning travelling in a hired small truck, zipping around lockups and warehouse storage areas at Heathrow airport. Besides the obvious thrill of staying up later than I ever had before, the locations were also exciting. Cold, dark and mysterious places full of goods loaded on pallets or in boxes. The place was also pretty much deserted as well, which gave the place a slightly spooky edge. I remember going with my Dad (whose idea this trip was – lest you think this was a solo adventure) into a building at Heathrow, going down a dimly lit corridor, and seeing this;

 The disembodied skull with the rictus grin  was pretty disconcerting. However, this paled in comparison with what waited for me around the next corner of the corridor;

DON’T SMUGGLE DEATH. The DEATH and RABIES in blood red lettering. The snarling wild eyed beast with it’s slavering jaws. The innocent victim. prone and defenceless. There is shock value in the image, and the use of the colour red emphasising the 2 keywords in the advertising. It is a hard hitting image, and a powerful message being conveyed. It affected me, especially in the context of being young, being in a slightly alien, dark and deserted environment. The bitter sweet memories of childhood terror!

Britain had some of the toughest quarantine laws in the world in the 70’s, following an outbreak of Rabies across Europe. With the UK Borders under attack from this unseen menace, the British Government began a poster and TV campaign about Rabies awareness. As you can see, it’s message was stark and uncompromising, with thed TV campaign being arguably the most unsettling;


Fascinating article on how the UK responded to the threat of Rabies;

Poster Images courtesy of the Wellcome Library

Post Apocalypse IX – The UK 4 Minute Warning Radio Broadcast and British Government plans in the event of a Nuclear Strike (1970’s)

Not a lot to say about this – very, very unsettling, even with nearly 20 years of time between us and the end of the cold war and the treat of M.A.D. The threat of Nuclear War was a nagging, but distant threat at a time when I was aware of the consequences of such an event. The British Governments plans for coping with the aftermath of a Nuclear Strike on the UK are revealed in the following BBC broadcast;

BBC radio report on, amongst other things, Peter Donaldson’s prerecorded radio message in the event of a nuclear strike

This is the transcript from the broadcast;

“This is the wartime broadcasting service. This country has been attacked by nuclear weapons. Communications has been severely disrupted and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your house. Remember, there’s nothing to be gained by by trying to get away. By leaving your house you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger. If you leave, you might find yourselves without food, without water, without accommodations, and without protection. We shall be on the air every hour, on the hour. Stay tuned to this wavelength but switch your radios off now to save batteries. That is the end of this broadcast.”

More resources;

Note – for those who don’t know MAD is an acronym for the phrase Mutually Assured Destruction;