The Proud HFF Motto: Nunquam Paratus. II

 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.

16 Responses

  1. It sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day, going down the hill. I hear you on having the supplies and being prepared for the “Coming Hard Times”. When I was a brand new wife, a thousand years ago I was also a Mormon ( a very long story) and we kept a six month supply of food for our family for just such emergencies as you are describing. Well I am now what is called a Jack Mormon, but those ingrained practices are hard to erase and I still find myself restocking for the second coming, I mean national emergencies or natural disasters.

  2. My husband is always demanding that we buy more canned goods for the coming collapse of society. He has an action plan (we’re going to join our extremely well-armed friend at his house), and will probably abandon me because I am dead weight. He claims that I will be useless when society collapses, but I say 1. I am very adaptable, 2. I own a LOT of wool clothing, and 3. society won’t be collapsing in my lifetime, so I cannot possibly worry about it. Still, this is how I found myself peering at my soup a few weeks ago and wondering why it was a little more orange than expected. Then I found the can and checked the expiration date. So, did that inspire me to rid myself of expired goods? Nope, not at all.

    I believe that I don’t have any pasta sauce, but I do have many cans of tomatoes, so I can create some if need be.

    We’re expecting several inches of snow tonight…

  3. What, exactly, is this Snow of which you speak?

    It was 72 farenheit here today. I believe that’s about 22 Celcuis.


  4. My mother was forever teaching us things to know “in case the apocalypse comes!” It was all tongue in cheek but still, if Public Worry shows up around here, I know I can make our clothes and blankets and cook and live off the land if I have to. Imagine if we lived next door to each other…we’d be our own little fortress!

  5. Oh, I used to be capable but these days I’m a Golgafrinchan. However, I get nervous living below 600′ with a good void of valley below me. Very frightening, Norfolk.

    “Sell by” dates are information for retailers.
    “Best before” dates tell you that quality might be a bit off afterwards, but it won’t actually kill you to eat it.
    “Use by” dates are the real ones – eat something after a “use by” date and that way botulism lies.

    See? I can interpret the weasel words of Health and Safety people. I *am* a Golgifranchan.


  6. UH-OH. I think I am catching survivalism! I never really worried about it much before. I thought tesco would ALWAYS be there for me.
    Might it not??

    [Now reconsidering vegetarianism, speculatively eyes blackbirds, which up to now had been feeding through the snow… oooh, Plump!
    Slugs! How about a nice slug stew? Where do the beggers go in the winter, though? Where is my STEW? ]

  7. You know how I met Knox online? Well, I actually put under my description of “self” that I love a good apocalypse. Obviously one of my most attractive features. And my pantry contains enough tinned tomatoes to survive , well, a little more snow if not the end of the world.

  8. Our compulsory nuclear fall out shelter from when we lived in Switzerland was full of old suitcases and least we would be merrily oblivious come Armageddon.

  9. I can spin, knit, crochet, sew, shear sheep (very slowly and badly with lots of swearing and comedy sheep-chasing), gut skin and pluck most farm-animals, birds and fish without crying or squealing ‘yuk!’ (much), I can cook, saw wood (am not allowed to use axes due to poor hand-eye coordination), build fires, walk on snow and ice (deeply under-practiced skill in London. I’ve been laughing cruelly at passers-by in stupid shoes all week), make cane or rush seats for chairs, pick olives (umm, pointless in a snow-apocalypse, that last one) and ski (badly). Can I come too?

    Tobogganing too cute for words, so I have none.

  10. Does tinned food ever go out of date? And you can alway make unleaven bread.

  11. LOL! We have a friend who is apocalypse friendly. He keeps an emergency chest under his bed complete with windup torch, matches, condoms (for water storage) etc.

    We, on the other hand are rubbish. I am not equipped for a regular day at home, let alone an apocalyptic one.

    I did make scones. I can throw one your way if necessary. Also, am a dab hand at making pasta sauce from scratch. Let me know what you want and I’ll give it a go.

    I can’t kill things though, and am enthusiastic though incompetent at everything else.

  12. Having that much food and two doctor neighbors is like my nirvana.

    And that’s NEIGHBORS.

    Who PLOWED their way up that drive of yours.

    Wait that sounded pervy….

  13. It’s barmy isn’t it. I must admit I’m not panic buying because I have a Land Rover which seems to walk over the snow however deep. I do feel sorry for the villagers though. Our nearest shop (a naff co-op with almost empty shelves and no paper for the lottery tickets) is 7 miles away across the A1 and not a good journey right now. However, life goes on, the farm never stops, and the animals have to be fed.

    CJ xx

  14. Seen the photos, including the great satellite one of a few days ago, and can only manage “Wow, that’s white!” And the tobogganing looks like fun.

    Apocalyptic thinking is no less here at the arse end of the planet. 43C forecast here tomorrow and the bushfire warning is Code Red Catastrophic. I do not need to kill wildlife, with the possible exception of snakes, and my only preparation is to make sure my car has a full tank of fuel. That said, in the days I ferried children about, the car carried fire retardent clothing and shoes, woollen blankets and water supplies.

    Our reptilian brain is only thinly covered with civilisation. I’m just planning to make sure the wine is really, really cold tomorrow!

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