We are crap at snow. The UK is currently cowering under a fair covering of the stuff; schools are closed, roads are blocked, cars are stranded and people are assessing their fridge contents nervously. The thermometer is dropping like a stone, the foreseeable forecast is not encouraging, and I am mildly nervous about my holiday plans next week.
It’s a long-held tenet of mine that the western world is only two meals away from total barbarianism. When I eventually get round to completing Aphra’s meme, I will be obliged to mention the entire works of John Wyndham – best known for his Triffids, but also author of some very fine endings of the civilised world indeed. As a consequence, I am the type of person who actually sits and plans for the apocalypse, wherever it finds me. I read the SAS survival handbook conscientiously, and I watch Ray Mears with adoring, attentive eyes.
When we built our house foundations, I was keen to dig a nuclear bunker into the hill – or at the very least, wall off secret emergency supplies from looters somehow. My in-laws and the architect weren’t quite on board with me over this, alas, but I have nevertheless identified my – ahem! – secret place.
Regarding sustenance: I like to keep tinned food in stock, despite not liking it at all. Owning it, hunting it, skinning it, gutting it, butchering it, cooking it and eating it is not a problem as such. (She says, peering out from behind her husband, who is her Chosen One for steps 3 and 4, as knowing which smelly bits not to slice into is important.) I approve the fact that John can actually hit what he aims at, incidentally, as my skills with a shotgun veer erratically from Annie Oakley to Elmer Fudd. We have – if John hasn’t sold it all yet – enough wheat in the barns to make an awfully large loaf.
I am mightily reassured by the fact that our marvellous neighbours – the only inhabitants of our hill, besides ourselves – are not only true outdoors-types, but handily enough, are both doctors to boot. The aforementioned hill dwelling is very satisfactory because it can be fortified – against, you know, the ravening brutish hordes of city-dwellers who have all heard about my hoard of tins. I occasionally review John’s barbed wire stocks with a critical eye. When the sea-levels rise, unless they go above 60 metres – we’re good.
The farm – a five minute walk – has tractors, Land Rovers, chainsaws, log-splitters, a generator, ample fuel, and a solid-fuel rayburn oven. Our living room has a woodburner that I think might melt iron. I would miss the internet like a limb, but I have a decent-ish library, lots of board games, and a family – all eminently practical, hard-headed and useful types – who like to play cards.
More importantly, I am the sort of girl who can drive a lorry, fashion an impromptu aerial out of coathangers and paperclips, mix cement, organise a team, read a map, keep a positive mental attitude, build a shelter, and, if it comes to it, reluctantly club small fluffy things hard on the head. I have no intention of being packed off to Golgafrincham.
But… it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t a tiny bit conflicted on the issue, too. Despite being ridiculously anxious about emergency supplies, whenever I hear about supermarkets being inundated with panic-buyers before bad weather or public holidays, I scoff loudly at their alarmist urban mindset and amuse myself fondly by comparing their scurrying rodent dread to my own carefully laid plans. This isolationist smugness lasts for a day or so, until I actually take an inventory and realise that my cupboards are Mother-Hubbard-level depleted of tins because I checked the sell-by dates a while ago and never replaced them; I have no yeast, because ditto; and that I have only 10 matches left in the house. I immediately struggle out to join the throng of bulging-eyed, sightless, stampeding shoppers who are also 2 days late, grabbing 10-year supplies of indecipherable Polish-brand groceries, elbowing old ladies violently aside and Shopping for Armageddon. I then rest on my laurels until the next Public Worry.
Today was entirely taken up by a toboganning session, followed by several hours of hosting friends who, to cut a long story short, became stranded here due to the state of our snowy, steep drive. Said friend was distressed by her involuntary trespass on our hospitality (most of our guests admittedly turn longing eyes towards the main road and freedom) but her mortification was nothing to mine when I realised that A) I had no nappies suitable for her 6 month old – and, during my investigations, that Harry’s stocks of pull-ups were alarmingly low, B) although I had sufficient pasta twists to feed the 5,000 I only had one – one! – jar of pasta sauce and C) I had no – you’ve guessed it – useful tins, yeast, or matches. We were also running low on milk.
Today, we tobogganed.
*rolls up sleeves and flexes the HFF Wifey Elbow*
Tomorrow, I shop.