Thursday, April 20, 2006
It's whatever number of years since the old Chernobyl accident. One of the most interesting features of all this has been the creation of a dead zone abandoned by humans but in which animal and plant life thrive. Maybe you have read the fascinating web piece by this Ukrainian woman who goes for motorbike rides through the forbidden zone? In our cynical age people have come forward to claim that her site is some kind of hoax. I think they miss the point, really, and fail to be moved by the evocative pictures and words on that site.
The BBC website has ran one of its picture pieces on Chernobyl, in particular on the abandoned town of Pripyat. There is something sad and ghostly about the place, where people evacuated so quickly they didn't have time to pack. The town takes on another significance now, as it is like a relic of Communism, reminiscent of that bit in "Lilja-4-Ever" where Lilja and the little boy look at pictures of servicemen in the abandoned Soviet era naval base.
It is also striking how quickly nature claims back its own. When the bird flu kills us all, there will be wild plants and rabbits living in your bedroom within a year. I suppose that runs counter to Pripyat's status as the USSR's Pompeii... in fifty to a hundred years the place will be indistinguishable from the surrounding forest.
(All pictures from the BBC website. But if you have not yet looked at the Ukrainian motorbike woman's website, go there now!)