Sunday, 4 March 2018

What Lessons Can Be Learned Courtesy of the Beast From the East?


The weather front that will go down in history as The Beast from the East hit the UK on the 27th February and is now slowly losing its bestial powers. As the weekend draws to a close the temperature should start to rise and the snows will melt. Life will go on and within a month it will all be forgotten about.

People spent whole nights trapped in their cars or forced to suffer a night on a train that was stuck in the middle of nowhere with no heat, light or even information as to when their sufferings would end. As I write, many thousands of houses are without electricity, and the road and rail networks are still in a state of chaos, with many bus services across the country running skeleton services, or none at all. British Gas is just one service that collapsed almost completely with many thousands of often elderly customers frantically trying to call the company's helplines when their boilers packed up. The icing on that particular cake came on the 1 March when it looked for a time as if the country was going to run out of gas.

I am old enough to just about remember the killer winter of 1962/63 which hit the country on Boxing Day and lasted until the first week of March. Pretty much the whole of January and February saw the UK covered in a white blanket of snow, with temperatures almost constantly below freezing.

Yet the buses and trains ran so people got to work and the economy ran, albeit at sub-optimal levels. Football matches had to be canceled, which annoyed the men and boys, although probably not as much as did their women who found themselves with bored fellows getting under the feet. The housewives and their daughters could get to the shops because the councils sent teams of beefy workmen with shovels to move the snow off the pavements, thus creating vast miniature mountain ranges of the stuff at the sides of the roads. That was great for six-year-old me as my father would drag me over those peaks on my sledge when he came home from work. My father and millions like him got to his factory because the councils made damn sure that the main roads were kept open, courtesy of the muscle-power of an army of labourers with no higher technology than shovels and lorries to cart the snow away in and dump it on the nearest bombsite or patch of waste ground.

When the cold front hit at the end of February 2018, the attitude seemed to be that it was every man for himself, with bus services cancelled. That meant that the many shops could not open, and the ones that did quickly found that they were running out of supplies.

The wonderfully sophisticated system of just in time deliveries where a computer programme places an order to another computer programme so that stocks of fresh bread and the like are delivered just as the old supply runs out exacerbated the problems. The system works very well until it stops working and then there are no means to create workarounds to ensure that supplies reach their intended destinations. When a country that is unprepared for extreme weather suddenly gets rather a lot of it and when councils decide to wash their hands of the problems, expecting the delivery system to continue working is expecting rather a lot.

The lesson that the Beast from the East gave to me is that individuals and their families need to take responsibility for their own immediate needs and not expect government of whatever level to do anything other than wring its hands and call meetings to analyse the situation and then do very little to ameliorate it.

That is not to say that I expect societal collapse at any time in the future because I don't. History teaches us that states and their people can survive any amount of catastrophe and keep on working. I lived in Mexico during the peso crisis of 1994 when the currency went into a nosedive, something which happened on a far worse level almost a decade later in Argentina. Yet both Argentina and Mexico came through the crisis, just as they came through their coups, revolutions and massive earthquakes in the case of Mexico, especially.

I just expect things to be run in a more cack-handed way that they were in the post-war years, with a more incompetent, third world level of response to any catastrophes that occur. People vote for lower levels of taxation and accept poor state provision so there is no point in whining when things don't work as they used to. The trick is to prepare for unforeseen events at the family or individual level so that as many people as possible can get through the period when nothing works.

With that in mind, I am going to put together a short series of postings on being prepared for events. These will be based on my own experiences of trying to be prepared for life's little vicissitudes in various third world shitholes and then applying them those lessons to life in the UK. 

Don't worry, as I plan to keep things as commonsensical as possible, so you will not be expected to plough through posts about bugout bags and what to do when the shit hits the fan. People who think like that are not planning for problems they are wanking over the thought of a catastrophe occurring that will allow them to light out into the wilderness and live a neolithic life. 

Such people are as mad as the ones who make no preparation for a major event at all, but between the two groups there sit I, and I hope you do too. We are the people who think that things are bad and will probably get worse, but we don't think that the end of the world is at hand.

If we are preppers, then we are terribly British preppers.

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