I just realised that later this month it will be half a century since the Cuban missile crisis.
I was in my final year at school. I was preparing for scholarship examinations for Oxbridge (I didn't succeed). I remember very clearly sitting on the steps of the podium in the school assembly hall, talking to a couple of friends. One of them asked, "How long do you think we've got?" I replied, on the basis of no real knowledge, of course, but aspiring to be a 17-year-old sage,"About three weeks". I believed it, and I was far from alone.
The Cold War was real and in those three weeks it was on a nuclear hair trigger. The prospect was of being blown off the face of the earth, with just four minutes' warning. The apocalypse really was on the horizon.
I also remember watching the news coverage of the denouement, and apparently being alone in thinking that Khruschev had "won".
And I failed to rise to the occasion (in several senses)---my adolescent existentialism withered when confronted by my equally adolescent evangelicalism (of course my then girl-friend's catholicism didn't help...)
The apocalypse didn't happen, and my wife is now on holiday in Cuba.
So it goes.