I can remember being at high school when the nuclear war issue was hot and the cold-war paranoia was buzzing. There was much talk of four-minute warnings and fall-out and nuclear shelters that only the rich and the powerful could afford. Margaret Thatcher said that all local councils should build one and my father, who hated her, would fume at the fact that only the elite got to retreat there in the event of a dirty bomb going off.
There were government information announcements telling us what action to take should we hear the chilling four-minute warning – how to Protect-and-Survive. I seem to remember they showed us doors being pulled off hinges and leant against walls that we were to hide under – amongst cushions. I’m not sure how accurate my memory is but Lordy, did they really think we stood a flying chance of surviving a nuclear blast, with all its nasty after-effects, by hiding under a propped-up door with a few scatter cushions for padding?
I can also remember a book by Raymond Briggs called When the Wind Blows. I’m sure I once had a copy but anyway, my friend had one and she brought it into school. We all read it in class with our very cool form tutor and I can remember feeling spooked and saddened by it . . . and really quite angry. The book was about a confused little old man and his dear wife trying to survive a nuclear attack. Thinking about it, the image I have of propped-up doors and cushions probably comes from this dear couple who, in their confused naivety, were trying to shelter under a door that they’d leaned against the wall. Well, whichever it was, the Protect-and-Survive programme seemed pretty pointless to us all.
Anyway, we would have long discussions about it with our tutor. We got silly about the doomsday scenario and came up with ridiculous things that we would do if we had only four minutes left to live. And we talked about the injustice, the stupidity and the futility of war. And later, as young and militant minds are prone to do, we all went on a ban-the-bomb rampage across school. Our teachers encouraged us at first but soon clipped our activism when they thought we were taking undue advantage of the free time they were allowing us out of class. Would we ever?
These days the old MAD doctrine seems to have been forgotten and government shelters around the country have been left to crumble but it seems that some people, muchly due to the uncertainty of the future of humanity, are once again feeling the need for self-sufficiency and are thus preparing for new threats such as bird flu pandemic, food and water shortages/wars, terror, blackout looting, the collapse of infastructure, hurricanes and so on. They’re calling it New Survivalism.
So, do any of you have a plan? What would your secret little survival stash consist of should you ever be faced with an apocalyptic event of some kind or another?
My list would go something like this:
- Food of course (tinned, dried, powdered, whatever, of varied nutrient value)
- tin opener! (I’m sure to forget that)
- water (cups, plates etc)
- radio (to communicate)
- first aid gear/medicines
- loo roll
- toilet! (the thought of not having a loo for a family of five is too horrible to even contemplate)
- mascara (well you never know who you might meet in a nuclear bunker)
- mobile phone (or maybe not. It would be refreshing not to be pestered everywhere I go by telesales and stupid chain text messages (although the chances of that happening during a nuclear war would be remote I suppose))
- PC/TV/PS2/CD’sDVD’s (although I’m not that sure we’d have electricity)
- plastic bags for rubbish
Have I missed anything? Let me know. I wouldn’t want to be caught short. Oh, I almost forgot one.