‘The end of the world? We’re doomed!’ was my immediate reaction when Gallery magazine contacted me this month. Unfortunately, by the time I realised they were talking about a theme for November’s issue, rather than issuing a frantic warning about a plague of locusts or an imminent nuclear strike, I’d already sealed myself in my fallout bunker, shaved off all my body hair and eaten the intern they sent with the message.
It’s a pity that Johnny the intern had to sacrifice himself for the common good, but Gallery will ensure he hasn’t died in vain by bringing you fine people on the outside the benefit of my status as Jersey’s premiere expert on surviving the coming apocalypse. Some men know about motorbikes, some understand DIY – my field of expertise lies in anticipating the threats offered by giant asteroids, global warming and giant mutant cockroaches (from space). I also know what to do if they ever recommission Noel’s House Party, but believe me when I tell you – the living will envy the dead.
You’re probably thinking to yourself ‘This is all common sense, but what’s the chance of global warming, asteroids and Noel’s House Party all happening at once?’ and you’d be right to ask that question, because I’m forced to admit that I don’t know the specific form that the apocalypse will take, merely that it is definitely coming at some point, much like the town park and high speed internet in St Ouen. I’m no super soldier, arrived from a dark future to warn you all about the rise of the machines – I don’t like Windows 7 any more than you do, but I cannot 100% guarantee that printer driver compatibility issues will be the agent of humanity’s destruction.
I exist in a constant state of pre-apocalyptic anxiety because although I’m certain we’re doomed, I’m no surer that our civilisation will be wiped out by zombies than by a cataclysmic shift in the Earth’s magnetic field; on most days I fear global financial meltdown every bit as much as the possibility of a malfunction at the Large Hadron Collider or the prophesied coming of Gozer the Destructor. However, I maintain that we must remain prepared and vigilant for whatever might occur, which is why I’ve hammered out a general purpose survival plan that should increase your chances in the event of all apocalyptic eventualities, be it the rise of the talking apes, a pandemic of bird-swine-spider flu or another 40-minute power cut. I’m not planning to get caught with my pants down, and I have a ten year supply of Andrex to make sure I can deal with it even if I do.
Fortify your dwelling
An Englishman’s home is his castle, and never is this truer than when St Helier has been destroyed by the Kraken and everything outside your four walls is a lawless wasteland peopled by starving, restless mobs who’d like nothing better to get their hands on your precious horde of AA batteries and Co-op Value baked beans. Well, think again starving mobs, because my home is harder to get into than Portelet car park on a bank holiday weekend. I’ve spent the last fifteen years flouting various planning regulations by extending my property straight down, and am now the proud of owner of three boreholes, a private generator and more reinforced concrete than Noirmont Point. Some of you think that leylandii and chicken wire are enough to keep the neighbours out, whereas I believe in holding off the first wave of killer robots and/or alien abductors with electrified razor wire and infra-red triggered claymore mines. I also thought about putting up a sign that said ‘no junk mail’ until I realised that nothing short of a direct nuclear strike will stop the relentless bombardment of takeaway menus and adverts for hearing aids.
I plan to outlast the worst that nature, space and the Mayans can throw at us by filling my basement with food and medicine. Try and imagine the difficulty of doing your weekly shop at 9:30 on Sunday evening and then multiply that by a thousand, and you’ll have some idea about what horrors the future may bring. Spar selling out of Branston pickle and Honey Nut Cheerios will be the least of your worries when you’ve battled a giant scorpion for enough water to wash the radioactive ash from your clothes only to discover that pteroseagulls have stolen the roof of your shelter to line their nests.
I recommend a horde of essentials (such as toothpaste, diesel and Smash) and the means to protect them from those restless mobs I mentioned earlier. I’m aware that it might not technically be legal for me to own an anti-aircraft gun and enough shotgun ammo to hold off the entire population of St Mary’s, but I’ve got round this by convincing the parish hall that I have a serious problem with pheasants – one that completely necessitates the need for enough weaponry to take on the Predator.
Plan to rebuild society
Jersey isn’t used to massive social upheaval, but you must appreciate the slim chance of our present system of government surviving the coming of Ragnarok and/or the Rapture. Things may be completely different by the time it’s okay to emerge from your safety bunker, so don’t be surprised if the States chamber has been replaced by a barbarous arena where all disputes are settled by gladiatorial battles between desperate survivors prepared to fight to the death over a stale packet of Coco Pops – we may even discover that ‘two men enter; one man leaves’ turns out to be an improvement on the current arrangement. That said, some things will never change whether we’re ruled by psychic mutants, giant ants or glowing farmers with three heads, so expect complaints about zombies taking all the jobs and for your kids to swim to the mainland because they’ll never afford a radioactive hovel of their own in a market dominated by buy-to-rent Morlocks and cunning estate mutants.
Prepare to entertain yourselves
Maintaining the last bastion of human culture isn’t just about eating cold spaghetti hoops and drinking your own urine, it’s also about holding onto those things that make us human in the first place. I’m talking about art and entertainment, and if you plan to spend the next 2 to 10 years co-existing with your family in a cramped bunker you’d better be aware that ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with Z’ might get a little boring after the first few months. You can’t rely on TV or the internet to entertain you once the bomb has dropped, so I encourage you to round out your impregnable future fortress with books and board games, although you should consider leaving Monopoly to the zombies unless you want to end up falling out so badly that life in the poisonous wasteland starts to look tempting by comparison.
Don’t forget the importance of arts and crafts – future civilisations will depend on your scribbled diaries, grim landscape paintings and knitted teapot covers in order to piece together exactly what went wrong. Every cloud has a silver lining, so I’m hoping that the total extinction of our species will at least result in cosmic archaeologists discovering a lead-lined time capsule full of Gallery back issues and giving me the appreciation I never received in life. I’ve also included some of my toenails, just in case they’ve discovered cloning by then.