The Air Attack Warning
Normally when Big Brother is watching I’m concerned, but maybe not in this case.
A lightning trip to Queensland and back last week saw a proud set of parents doing the whoop-whoop from the audience as ‘child’ number one moved forward with the next stage of life in the RAAF. They do things right in the ol’ armed forces I believe. All those there to share in the happiness of the graduates were treated like kings and queens, and we were given an exhibition of how they roll in the protection of our nation. Impressive. Secure feeling. Hearts warmed. No expense spared.
Cut back to the 80s, and also to the 40s. During the Second World War, particularly in England, the BBC radio was used as the method of communication for all alerts and warnings when bombings and danger were imminent. They would ‘cease regular programming’ for an announcement about hurrying inside as the bombers were sighted coming toward England. A great use of the technology of the day, which probably saved countless lives. In the Eighties, mega-band Frankie Goes To Hollywood released an album called ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’, featuring a host of anti-Nuclear songs and slogans, including the worldwide #1 ‘Two Tribes’. In that gem, the narrator uses a throwback line to WW2 saying “When you hear the air attack warning, you and your family must take cover at once!”.
Driving through one of the reeeeeeaaaaalllyy long tunnels under the scape of Brisbane during the morning peak hour, we noticed that all the illuminated signs above us had changed from arrows and directions to a message saying ‘turn on your radio’. Weird, ours was already on and pumping. We were happily listening and chatting when all of a sudden things went silent mid-song, to be replaced by the voice of a lovely (but clinical) lady with an ‘announcement’. Now this may have happened to many of you before, but it was a first for us, as the lady warned that we should slow down in the tunnel as there was congestion ahead just before one the exits. She thanked us for our cooperation and patience, and then the song came back on.
Whilst the announcement was very pleasant, informative and most of all accurate – we watched on as the traffic in the left lane came to a halt just ahead and we slowly and thankfully avoided it via the right lane exit. All I really heard deep inside my mind was a blast from the Frankie song “… when you hear the air attack warning…” I laughed a nervous laugh, related what was going on in my head to my wife, and asked her to send a text message to my phone so I’d remember to write this column.
The warning for the traffic holdup was awesome, and as my cynical mind wandered I started to think about where this type of technology could end up, with the possibility of “this announcement brought to you by …” some sort of alcohol or gambling venture not too far away. Would the PM be able to interrupt my highway singing to ‘Nutbush’ with an alert about the budget or a rise in interest rates? At least Kevvie Walters didn’t cut in on Tina with some propaganda about why the Maroons did so badly in Origin 2 … but the possibility exists for all this to happen, I guess.
Being glass is half full, well done Queensland roads, our two day whirlwind visit to your state was top shelf. Ridiculously easy to get around, no delays on our travels, superbly signposted, and only a fraction of the self-centred drivers we experience when driving in the Knee of Sid. We’ll be back. Hopefully the announcements will only always be about the traffic.