Monday, 6 June 2016
As a cold war kid back in the sixties a common theme was survival. On joining the Boy Scouts and being ‘legally’ allowed to carry a weapon on me at all times – you never know when something needs whittling – I decided to take Baden-Powell’s advice to heart and make ‘be prepared’ my watchword. It was a popular thing back then and became doubly so during the hysteria of the early seventies, to put together survival kits. First aid kits to survive accidents, stockpiling to ameliorate shortages and cater for unexpected visits of distant relatives, tool kits for every contingency and of course total, all-out, apocalyptic nucleargeddon. It was almost disappointing when the promised bombs never came.
I remember a ‘utility hat’, with things secreted about its structure – a razor blade folded into the headband, a pen and pencil tucked into the lining and oh what I wouldn’t have given for one of those silk printed maps that downed bomber pilots would use to navigate home through Nazi-dominated Europe, having tunnelled out of a Stalag Luft or two. But my favourite survival kit was the one I kept in a cigar tube, craftily repurposed following some family gathering, yet for the life of me I can’t remember anyone in my family who could have afforded to buy an expensive cigar.
Anyway as I recall it contained a cornucopia of fanciful gadgetry should I ever find myself the lone survivor of a disaster, thermo-nuclear or otherwise: Fishing line and hooks. A scalpel, possibly for performing some rudimentary form of surgery. A saw-wire for felling trees to build shelter. Flint and tinder to make fire – always supposing the landscape all around wasn’t already ablaze. There was also a solar still for collecting drinking water and a tin opener from an army ration pack. And of course, I could fight off attacks from marauding packs of zombie mutants with my trusty sheath knife. Suffice to say, I survived.
I wonder where it is now; it could come in handy in a couple of weeks for when we enter the dead zone beyond Referendum Day. Pro Remain campaigners are fond of saying there is a clear case for staying in; that the argument is clearly on their side; that the economic facts clearly show that we should vote to stay. But no such clarity exists; literally nobody knows what awaits us on June 24th. If it was so clear, there would be no need of a referendum and the preceding lengthy process of claim and counter-claim which is dividing the nation. Whatever happens the old scout motto couldn’t be more pertinent; Be prepared.
Have you packed your toothbrush?
So, what would you want to have in your post-Brexit survival kit? Bearer bonds, gold, a mattress stuffed with dollars? Maybe you’ve stocked the larder with the sort of exotic foodstuffs you think we’ll no longer be allowed to buy? Is the car full of fuel? Do you have a generator for when the lights go out? Vitamin C tablets to ward off scurvy? In or out, the best things you can pack are a sense of proportion, a modicum of self-sufficient clarity, as much common sense as you can muster and make sure your stock of good old British sense of humour is intact. You’re going to need lots of that to survive the next 17 days...