When the Apocalypse comes, let me go first
I read an entertaining article in the London Times today about preppers. In case you’re not aware what a prepper is, it’s somebody who’s watched too many disaster movies, and is convinced that one of them before long will turn out to be real.
So they go out and purchase assault rifles, tents, water, non-perishable food, antibiotics, Swiss penknives, gas bottles, cooking stoves, bandages, blankets, lots of spare underwear and a year’s supply of condoms.
I’m kidding about the condoms, though no doubt there are plenty of preppers out there who expect to have their evil way with other preppers, provided they haven’t shot them when they get too close.
Apparently our preppers, as opposed to the hardened survivalists in the United States, don’t believe that the time will come when they will have to defend their mountain redoubts against hordes of feds who will come after them on behalf some post-apocalyptic socialist government. There are also not so many who believe in the end of days.
Our preppers have more mundane concerns. They’re worried about the breakdown of law and order when ebola finally gets here. Or having to leave their homes in the event of a catastrophic flood – a tsunami unleashed when that tottering Canary Island finally slips into the sea. There are even preppers who want the end of the world as we know it to come, so that they can have the satisfaction of being able to tell all the soft, decadent, unprepared “I told you so”.
And decadent we most certainly are, according to the preppers. Our parents and grandparents learned to survive the consequences of one of Hitler’s bombs falling on their houses. In a time of rationing they learned to mend and make do, and concoct nutritious and vaguely edible meals through years of rationing.
My generation, the baby boomers, lived through nothing like this. Yes, we did learn to cross the street when we saw an untended package in case it was an IRA bomb, and we did endure the three-day-week when the miners went on strike. But no street lamps and devouring our curries by candlelight was more an entertaining distraction than a state of emergency.
So I fully confess to being one of those soft, decadent, lamentably-prepared suckers who will be the first to go under when the balloon – of whatever description – goes up. And I don’t propose to change my ways now.
The thought of sharing the blasted heaths of England with a bunch of AK47-toting lunatics as they let loose with their crossbows at itinerant squirrels would be too much to bear.
And anyway, I am prepared, to the extent I’m prepared to be. I have an axe (blunt) for chopping wood. I have enough empty water bottles to be able to fill up in a hurry. As for food, I could do with losing a bit of weight anyway, so I should be OK for a few days. My house is well above any flood plain, so no worries about being swept away, unless the Canaries tsunami reaches the British home counties.
Should the worst happen, and the apocalypse turns out not to be temporary, I would rather curl up and expire beneath an oak tree on an abandoned golf course. I imagine the scene as if it was a movie. I hand my last packet of chocolate fingers to my wife, and tell her to go, save herself. She, not wishing to become the slave of a group of marauding preppers, says she won’t leave me. So we settle down, and have a last meal of the red spotted toadstools that we’ve foraged from under the nearest rhododendron bush, with the choccie bics as dessert. We then quietly slip into the eternal sleep, leaving our bodies to the packs of abandoned Labradors.
After all, who in their right mind would tolerate a world without email, smart phones, camembert, Turkish coffee, Strictly Come Dancing and her Majesty the Queen? A world without the 4×4, dishwashers, hair straighteners, pinot grigio and Premier League Football? Without therapists, estate agents, call centres, traffic wardens and baristas?
And who would want to stumble around waiting for the fallout to crumble our bones, or the black death to strike us down?
Besides, should the disaster turn out only to be a mild apocalypse, and things return to normal, as they usually do in the disaster movies, who wants to listen to some smug bastard talking about how he hung out in the woods for weeks eating baked beans and termites?
Far better to be able to tell harrowing tales of survival against the odds, of emerging skeletal from the ruins of a mansion in Virginia Water, of existing on half a tin of foie gras a week, of removing one’s own appendix or getting into a fight to the death with a rabid Jack Russell.
So to hell with the camouflage jacket, the combat knife and the powdered milk. I’ll take my chances with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the garage, my stash of landmines, semtex and hand grenades, and stay put. And when Shiva decides to strike, I hope he waits until the current series of The Bridge is over.
I wasn’t a boy scout in my youth, and Mad Max I ain’t now.