Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One Day All This Will Be Yours

Karen and I greatly enjoyed the first part of “Survivors” broadcast here in the UK on Sunday night. The premise is an old one – most of the population wiped out by disease / catastrophe; only a handful of people come through the initial disaster; we vicariously follow their struggle to survive in a world that has regressed without technology to something akin to the Dark Ages.

It’s a school boy “what if” adventure yarn – and I don’t categorize it thus to denigrate it. I love stories like this. Being a child of the cold war I seem to recall reading loads of post apocalyptic stories like this as a teen – there was a real trend for them at one time. My favourite was always “Empty World” by John Christopher, the basic premise of which is identical to “Survivors”: a deadly virus wipes out nearly all of the population in a matter of weeks. Buildings, green spaces, wildlife are all left unharmed and untouched.

It’s just the people that are gone.

The stuff of nightmares really and yet even as a teen I found myself indulging in what can only be described as dark fantasies that revolved around this single premise with a discomforting sense of glee. What if it really happened? What would I do? How would I cope?

Watching “Survivors” on Sunday has regurgitated all these boyhood what-ifs and I’ve been musing over them for the last few days. What if? What if?

If I was a survivor what would I do?

So far I have come up with this 12 point plan to ensure my continued survival:

1) Acquire muscular transport. Something that can hold loads of supplies and is strong enough to plough through the barricades of any rogue survivors I may encounter who have turned feral. A juggernaut should do it. There’s going to be no traffic on the roads so no one is going to complain about my appalling driving.

2) Loot the supermarkets. Tinned food, bottled water, toilet paper, manual household appliances – tin openers, knives, etc. Will need as much of this kind of stuff as possible until I can learn how to milk a cow / hunt for fresh meat.

3) Loot the chemist. Basic pain killers, bandages, antiseptic creams, needles, scalpels – whatever might be useful in times of dire emergency. You don’t want to be on your own with a man-cold.

4) Loot the mountaineering / extreme sports shops. Lots of goodies to be got here. Outdoor clothing, shoes, camping equipment, compasses, maps, gas cylinders, candles, torches, batteries. Survivalist heaven. Some of these new water purifying gizmos would be damned useful too for when the bottled water runs out.

5) Loot the Library. A much underestimated resource. The internet is down and dead due to power failures – it’s back to the printed page. DIY books – electrics, plumbing, woodworking, metal working, anything by
Ray Mears and the Penguin Guide to Basic Farming will all be going into the back of my juggernaut. I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me.

6) Fuel. Need to stockpile as much of this as I can while the remaining stocks last. There’s going to be no fresh deliveries at the petrol stations for a while remember!

7) Animals. This might sound crazy but I’d round up a few stray dogs and keep them with me. Useful hunting companions and excellent guard dogs / early warning systems. In a few year's time all the strays will have reverted to wild – choose your pooches now while they are still house trained and retain a memory of man as the master. A man’s best friend and a friend for life – not just for a post-disaster Christmas.

8) Weaponry. Ostensibly for hunting but you just never know... again specialist shops should furnish you with a decent arsenal but I’d also be going to the local archery club and lifting a good bow or two. To hunt without announcing your presence is useful and may also guarantee your continued survival. Rogue gangs will be after your water and cigarette lighters remember!

9) Head for the hills. Once the juggernaut is loaded I’d be heading as far from the towns and cities as I could before the dead and the rotting engender an epidemic of typhoid and dysentery. Time to head for cleaner air and fertile farm land. Wales I reckon. Somewhere high up, defensible and remote enough to not be bothered by rabid hoodies who, as we all know, have an aversion to hill walking.

10) Make my new dwelling a home. Fortify the place. Barricade the doors and windows. Tinsel it about with weapons of minor destruction. No hoodie is going to tag his artless graffiti on my gaffe. Bury stockpiles of food and equipment just in case you run into trouble / thieves – always good to have a back-up supply hidden close by. Reconnoitre your immediate environment. Know what’s out there. Know the lie of the land. I’d gather some livestock too if possible – a few sheep and a few cows. The odd pig and chicken. Cool. That’s breakfast sorted out.

11) Acquire suitable company. Naturally my most dearest wish is that my wife and children survive with me but I’d also be on the look out for fellow survivors who are (a) not hoodies, (b) not escaped mental patients with a history of violence and (c) not Russell Brand. I would gather like minded individuals to my flag and steer my new commune onto even greater success and self sufficiency.

12) Set myself up as King and father a new dynasty for the new age. Hey, this survivalist malarkey ain’t half bad!

There. Simple. I don’t think I’ve missed anything out. Or have I?

What would you do if you were the lone survivor of a global disaster or plague?


Anonymous said...

Oh I love these adventures too - they are really the only sort of things that captivate me other than fugitive/escape from prison type films and I guess they are much of the same ilk.

I actually watched this - yes, don't fall off your chair, I actually watched (and stayed awake for) a television programme.

And yes, I did the "what if" thing too. I did wonder about glasses, Steve. So many people wear them and would be crippled without them, that I think you should also raid a branch of Specsavers and save some specs for future use. YOu wouldn't be a successful hunter if you couldn't even find your gun let alone your prey.

I have to say that I would take the opposite approach - take nothing much, head for the country (we had a spring next to our house in Wales) and just survive the best I could with the basics. My first priority I suppose would be to learn to make something alcoholic.

I guess for me the "fun" would be in starting again, not in trying to reconstruct what I had before!

Annie G said...

As a lone survivor, not sure but with a handful of survivors, I think I'd come and join you as you're so resourceful. My child-bearing days are over so I couldn't assist with creating your dynasty but I make a very tasty chicken casserole! If I could get the adoption papers signed, I'd bring Merlin.

Really enjoyed episode 1 of Survivors - reminiscent of '28 Days Later' without the gore. It's thought-provoking - I can't wait for episode 2 this evening!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Sounds like my current work situation. I'll let you know!

Steve said...

Damn! Good call, Gina. I'd need a ready supply of replacement specs and no mistake - I don't want to be reaching for a bottle of water in the middle of the night and grabbing a can of paraffin instead!

Annie, chicken casserole (provided you can gut the poor bird) would certainly ensure you a safe place in the new kingdom. I shall send you the coordinates once base camp is established...

Laura, take my advice: put your foot down in the juggernaut and smash straight through the lot of them!

Brother Tobias said...

How did I miss the start of this series?
We all share that fantasy. A Cold War child like you, I started to write the obligatory book on a post apocolyptic theme, with a similar hit list to you - only it involved landrovers (learned to drive in those), sailing boats (could do that too) and an uninhabited Hebridean island full of sheep (not telling you; it's still my fall back plan). I also once rebuilt a ruined 'blackhouse', with drystone walling and reed thatch, so felt particularly well equipped.

My son confided the other day that he too has this fantasy...depressingly involving the survival of no one 'old' (eg, over 20). I think it is a timeless, universal urge, faced with council tax and mortgages and dehumanising jobs, to escape to the simplicity of a life which is under our control.

Oh, and you should add loo paper to your list.

Steve said...

Brother T, the loo paper was already there rather fittingly at no.2...

You sound like a man after my own heart - or I'm after yours - either way your dry stone walling techniques would be most welcome in Wales if ever you pass through in your landrover.

Meanwhile I must add guide books that teach one how to sail to my inventory...

Brother Tobias said...

So it was. But you can never have too much...

Daisy said...

i would put the weapon thing up to number 1...you don't know who or what is going to be out there and you need the protection...yes, i have thought this as well...too many movies!

Steve said...

True Brother T and soiled loo paper would be great for composting. Keep my vegetables in good supply: loads of potatoes and carrots for when I'm entertaining the peasantry from the valleys or rival King-lets.

Hi Daisy, yes you're possibly right. A quick visit to the nearest army base should put some serious hardware into my grasp. Machine guns, bazookas, the occasional tank or two. I could get a pair of those black trousers with the red stripe down the side. Smart.

Daisy said...

steve...those pants are down right sexy...don't know that karen wouldn't just rip them right off...perhaps that should be your first stop :)

Steve said...

Daisy, it's a well known psychological fact that close encounters with death and destruction are great aphrodisiacs... that's why I always embark on serial killing sprees on a Friday night (something for the weekend)...

Daisy said...


MommyHeadache said...

look you have some great ideas, the problem surely is that the women would all top themselves as soon as they realized they would have to wear dirty smelly underwear and not shower much or use all their scented lotions. Because the days when ladies went to bathe in streams or handwashed their smalls on one of them washboards are gone, long gone. So it would be all these men buggering about but without the women to show off to about how you can make a house out of old incontience diapers etc..a pretty dire state of affairs methinks

Steve said...

Emma, you are forgetting a simple fact. All those lingerie shops just waiting to be looted! Thousands and thousands of lacy knickers just waiting to be lifted from the rails... nighties, bras and leatherwear a-plenty and no need to embarrass yourself by speaking to a shop assistant first. A resourceful woman could wear a brand new pair of silky knickers every day and never have to even think about a washing machine or an iron. Utopia for any woman, surely?