..it’s the end of the world as we know it …

and I feel fine….. with apologies to REM.
I have always been a huge fan of disaster films.  I sat in the stalls at the Gaumont Notting Hill Gate (the gallery having been closed for safety reasons, this was long before the age of the Notting Hill Yummy Mummy) devouring Towering Inferno, the Poseiden Adventure (which I pronounced the Poisedown Adventure, which was more apt in the circumstances but just revealed my poor knowledge of Ancient Greek), Airport, Solyent Green, The Andromeda Strain.  Then on television there was Survivors, The Stand, The Day After, Threads, The Quiet Earth, The Last Train.  I loved them all and still do.  Today apocalyptic films are more on Hi Tech than High Drama, though Contagion deserves an honourable mention.

As soon as I graduated from Alison Uttley and the Pullien-Thompson sisters I moved on to On the Beach, The Death of Grass,  Alas Babylon, The Martian Chronicles, Canticle for Leibowitz, Earth Abides.  I was actually quite a cheery and optomistic child despite my favoured reading matter!

Recently I have returned to apocalyptic media.  It all started several years ago when my father passed on to me a book I had given him for Christmas the year before.  One Second After by William Forstchen, the story of how a small community survives after an electromagnetic pulse destroys  most of the western world.  I was fascinated, not least because it didn’t pull any punches and showed how a very ordinary man had to change in order to keep his community alive.  Decisions become based on very different criteria.

Whilst on holiday my kindle died on my so I was forced to read from the eclectic collection of books left in our apartment complex.  I am a voracious reader and got through over 20 books whilst away so my reading was forced to be very catholic.  One book that grabbed me sufficiently that I went on to read the sequel was The Flood by Stephen Baxter.  Curiosity piqued I  re-read Alas Babylon (which Forstchen acknowledges as in influence for his own book) and then Lucifer’s Hammer.  You can look all the books up on Wikipedia so I’m not going to go into them here.  What interests me is am I ready if something were to happen here?
Before you laugh, remember Hurricane Sandy or the New Orleans flood.  I remember watching Claire canning fruit and vegetables during the summer in North Dakota and the preparations for tornadoes.  I spent a summer in Antigua in the company of Hurricane David.  For many people being prepared is common sense and almost criminal not to be.  But here in the UK we don’t usually get the wild extremes of weather that means that preparedness is in the forefront of our minds.

Should it be?  Are we pathetically ill-prepared for a disaster that could leave us without food, water, power, drugs?  Is it scaremongering or is it commonsense?


2 responses to “..it’s the end of the world as we know it …

  1. In answer to your question, no, I’m sure I’m not prepared! But I’ve been thinking about this question in a slightly different, but related, way lately. My sister and family live in Connecticut, USA and they had very close shave with hurricane Sandy. A tree fell dangerously close to their house and they lost power for 26 hours but they considered themselves very fortunate; people suffered much more than them. Last year, they lost power for five days due to big snow and coping with that was a story and a half! Both these incidents have made me think that we should all be made to do without power for an extended period of time, long enough to really feel, at the very least, the inconvenience of living without electricity etc. Perhaps then we might be a little more committed to 1. saving it and 2. finding better ways of providing it in the future. So yes, we should be preparing to prevent the end of the world and we should all be thinking how to live a little differently.
    Meanwhile, I’m off to check nobody’s left their light on…!
    Great post as ever!

  2. Pingback: Books – November 2012 « Penguin's Nest

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