Many a year has passed since I last set foot inside the Blackpool Sixth Form College, but tonight it was the venue for the latest of my talks on Chernobyl – a pictorial tour of the exclusion zone as it stands today set to the story of the background and aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
There seems to be a genuine interest in this subject, perhaps because it’s such a powerful story that many people remember, perhaps because it’s somewhere most people won’t ever see first hand… or perhaps simply out of morbid fascination. Time stands still – it’s forever 1986 in the ruined city of Pripyat, yet it’s changing all the time as the seasons rise and fall and the ravages of nature take their toll. Everything is transient.
I was at the sixth form college to talk to the Blackpool Geographic Association – an audience of largely retired teachers by all accounts and padded out on this occasion by my Dad, a work colleague and a number of other people I’d met along the way that had come to see what I had to say. And arriving late was the unmistakable form of my old primary school headmaster, who stood beaming at the back of the packed room enjoying every minute.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about seeing my old college after 18 years but I needn’t have worried – it’s a completely new build now and everything I remember had been demolished. Gone was the cavernous common room, the burger bar… even Mary’s bar was no more, a shiny new Starbucks filling the gap.
Everything is transient indeed.
- Blackpool Geographic Association
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