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Pripyat Hospital

Seven in the morning. At seven, they told me he was in the hospital. I rushed over, but there was a police cordon round the hospital, they weren’t letting anyone in. Only the ambulances were let through. The police were warning us not to go near the ambulances. The Geiger counters were going berserk! I wasn’t the only one. All the wives rushed over, everyone whose husband had been at…

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Pripyat school

Our Chernobyl guide was very relaxed about taking us into most buildings in Pripyat; but the school was one of the exceptions. "Please remain quiet, and if you see anyone outside, hide!" This was probably because one quarter of the school had collapsed under the weight of snow, and the authorities were worried that the rest might collapse on top of some visitors; so guides had been instructed not to…

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To the tower

When Chernobyl's reactor four exploded, reactor five was still under construction. The project was understandably cancelled. For reasons that were not made entirely clear, we headed off down a railway track to check out reactor five's incomplete cooling chimney. Along the way there was all manner of abandoned equipment. As we had ventured into an area which has not been decontaminated, there were also some invisible danger spots, which our…

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Take all your clothes off!

The V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station (or Chernobyl to you and me) had four operational reactors in 1986, with a fifth under construction. When reactor number four went bang and shocked the world, the remaining three remained operational for a number of years before being shut down. Now they are being decommissioned and, if you know the right people, it is possible to visit them. Our organiser knew the right…

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Not so dumb

My battle against the plaque currently invading my arteries involves a three pronged assault. Firstly there is the keto diet which is now part of my life and I cannot imagine heading back to the world of sugar, hunger cycles and a fuzzy head. Secondly there is the adoption of intermittent fasting (eighteen hours a day) which we have practised a couple of times but must make part of our…

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Total recall

She who must be obeyed receives a phone call from Mitsubishi. "Your truck is being recalled to replace the air bag. Please come in when you can". We haven't had it all that long; but recalls seem quite common with modern cars, so she drives to the garage this morning and I head along later to pick her up. "I have brought my truck to have the air bag changed,…

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Pripyat Café

The café next to the river was a popular focal point before the event. The café is on the right, and on the left is a observation platform: Beds of roses greeted those heading for their morning coffee: Nowadays, the café looks less welcoming: And the observation platform area is overgrown: But a glance inside the café offers the promise of colour: And then you find this: Given the inevitable…

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The price of old age

Lucky is the man, or woman, who lives a long and full life without the need to resort to medication before the day they are killed driving a Ferrari at high speed into a concrete wall (my preferred exit strategy). I am not one of those people. A variety of afflictions have visited me across the years, some of which require continuing attention. My latest heart problem (as opposed to…

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Pripyat amusement park

Ferris wheel, seen from the Palace of Culture The Pripyat amusement park was not offering much to residents; just five attractions. But the Ferris wheel alone ensured it has been one of the most visited and photographed sites in Pripyat. The amusement park was due to open on the 1st May 1986, but the explosion on 26th April scuppered that; although there is some evidence that a "soft opening" was…

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Welcome to Pripyat

We lived in Pripyat, near the atomic power station. It’s where I was born and raised. In a big prefab apartment block, up on the fourth floor. The windows looked out on the power plant. On 26 April … Many people told me later they definitely heard the explosion. I don’t know; in our family, no one noticed it. I woke up in the morning as usual, to go to…

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