New Internationalist

How (not) to survive the apocalypse

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Anna Chen emerges from winter and wonders what happened to her backbone.

So. That was my trial run for Armageddon; the day capitalism implodes and society breaks down. With the spring comes blessed relief from the Arctic turmoil that had Canadians, New Yorkers, Inuit and Siberian huskies wondering what the hell was wrong with us Brits. Even my surfing Oz neighbours, off to see the blizzard, reckoned they could do a better job than our puny infrastructure.

I’ve emerged from winter feeling like a Montana survivalist. I fretted over getting an electric heater because the nation was down to its last eight days of gas. Hot-water bottles, ditto. There was a wood pile somewhere under the ice in case the boiler blew, bottles of water and a full pot on the stove ready for when the pipes burst. Men’s thick thermals (or thick men’s thermals from whom they were purloined) guaranteed back-up for the day gas and electricity become a dim memory from the golden age of Having Stuff. And torches, tea-lights and a blunt instrument ready for the Raiders when they target our meagre crop of potatoes and roquette salad.

I actually wondered if I should fight the birds for their fat balls. How many squirrels to make a stew? How many tits for a single-entendre?

The best metaphor of the season was grit because we had none in any sense. Not only did the roads go ungritted, meaning you played Russian roulette just getting about, but the Iraq inquiry needed a spinal column shoved up its flabby fundament. The only gentlemen’s club I wish to see in action is one embedded with studs and swung with gusto in the general direction of the warmongers and their cheerleaders.

Not that I had much moxie* about me. It’s not as if I was in deepest Devon, where poor motorists were stranded six hours at a time in sub-zero temperatures and farm workers fought to dig out our root vegetables. I was struggling in the pampered north of one of the world’s great capital cities.

Ah well, at least come the thaw, hair washing and bathing are no longer on hold. But each new global catastrophe brings us a little nearer to the day we find out how useless we will be when our number really is up.

What to do to entertain myself during the breakdown of society? I know. I’ll watch my mega-collection of DVDs and use my digital reader to catch up on all those good books I never read… D’oh!

*backbone

Anna Chen is a writer, performer and broadcaster.

Blog: "‘Madam Miaow says...’

Website: www.annachen.co.uk

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