Back in the early to mid 1980s, when I had two small children, and Raymond Briggs had written his graphic novel (but we didn’t call them graphic novels then) “When the Wind Blows”, I used to worry at times about the threat of nuclear war. My main concern was that one child was in primary school, one was at nursery, Phil was out working as a teacher in a school on the other side of town and I could be in any of several community centres teaching adult classes. If we had the attack warning, who would I rush and collect first? If we were going to die, I reasoned, the four of us should be together. The same applied if we were going to survive in a post-nuclear situation. And then time moved on, the threat faded away, the children grew up and we all got on with our lives.
I was reminded of this by reading about a group of people who call themselves “preppers”. These are people who never have less than half a tank of petrol in their car, who have stores of bottled water, who have stocks of food sufficient for a couple of months. Here are a couple of quotations:
“We see prepping as a way to increase our chances of survival if something happens. And we’re all ready to get out of the way when it does”.
“I started to store a tin a week - sweetcorn, beans, tinned tomatoes - and, over time, added cases of pasta, bags of rice, boxes of long-life meat and bottles of water. Most people keep a few things in their cupboard - soup, beans, things like that. It’s just that I’ve got 70 of each, stored in a brick outhouse that my husband converted”.
Wow! That sounds serious!
Some of them have a “go-bag” permanently packed, just in case they need to make a run for it at short notice.
Now I feel quite inadequate. My only bit of “prepping” is having a store of candles and matches, and knowing where they are, in case we have a power cut. And that’s only because there was a time when we had frequent power cuts in the winter time. We haven’t needed them often in recent years but it’s nice to know where they are. Oh, and we could, in a pinch, remove the clever electric fire from the fireplace and restore the old grate and keep ourselves warm by burning the furniture. But we would have difficulty cooking meals!
Apparently there are a lot more “preppers”in the USA, where they do have serious snow cutting people off from time to time. And masses of people have guns so it might be necessary to take refuge of some mind. And then there is the increased threat of POTUS getting them into a war with some other country!
The whole “prepper” movement, if you can call it that, must say something about the state of anxiety that many people live in nowadays.
As for me, my family is spread rather further than it was back in the 1980s. It will be a lot harder for me to gather everyone together in the event of major disaster! I guess I’ll just carry on hoping it doesn’t come to that.