Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Santa Muerte

Interest in the Santa Muerte has finally taken off in the UK and I have a small stock of Santa Muerte items that will allow you to create an altar to the Dark Goddess in your home. As far as I am aware I am the only seller of Santa Muerte merchandise in the UK and I have no idea when new supplies will arrive.

The Secrets of the Santa Muerte

This book gives a brief history of the Dark Goddess, before telling the readers everything they need to know about the spells and incantations that are used by her adherents. This is a must-have book for anyone who wishes to enter into the service of the Dark Lady of the Shadows and receive the benefits that she bestows upon her followers.

Available from Amazon and all good bookshops, a signed copy of The Secrets of the Santa Muerte can be yours for just £10.00 plus P&P. Just drop me a line and let me know if you want a special dedication to someone and then wait for the postman to deliver your exclusively signed copy.


These 5" statues are perfect for a small altar in a tiny flat, and since they are moulded in one piece they are virtually unbreakable. Black is the traditional colour of the Santa Muerte but as you can see, I also have the rainbow statuettes as well.

Each and very statuette, no matter what size has been charged with sacred seeds in its base and then blessed with the secret words of power by a Santa Muerte adept as part of the production process in the Mexican artisan workshops.

The 5" statuettes sell for just £15.00, plus P&P.

I have a small stock of 7" black statuettes that show the Dark Goddess with a scythe. They are made from the same acrylic as the small statuettes but are hollow inside and so weigh less.

The 7" statuettes sell for £20.00 plus P&P.

Finally, certainly as far as statuettes are concerned, I present the 9" rainbow beauty of which I only have a couple available.

These statuettes sell for £25.00 plus P&P.

Double-Sided Amulets

A double-sided cloth amulet showing the Santa Muerte in black on one side and red on the other would be perfect as part of your altar rituals. The amulets are 4" long and 3" wide and are rare, even in Mexico. They are made in small sewing shops by female adepts and blessed by them before being offered for sale.

The amulets sell for £10.00 plus P&P

Conjuration Cards

Conjuration cards are very common in Santa Muerte worship with the large 4" x 3" ones often to be found on an altar. The reverse of each card contains a prayer or spell in Spanish.

Four large conjuration cards are priced at just £5.00

Small 3" x 2" cards are often carried in the wallet or purse and each one comes in its own plastic wallet. 

The set of 12 cards costs £10.00 plus P&P.


Incense is used a lot in Mexican rutuals with most people using standard church incense. However, specially blessed Santa Muerte incense sticks are available and I have a small stock of them here in the UK. Each pack contains 20 sticks and they are used for special rituals such as love, domination, attraction etc. Please drop me a line and I will tell you what I have in stock on the day as my supplies of incense are running low.

A pack of 20 incense sticks sells for £5.00 plus P&P.

Postage and Packing:

The book on its own, an amulet or the conjuration cards can be sent for £2.50 P&P. I could probably get the book and the cards into one envelope for that price, but if you wanted all three the price would be £5.00 for  a large letter.

Anything else needs to go as a parcel at a cost of £10.00. However, for that price I could get pretty much everything into one box and it would be sent to be signed for at your end, so there is no danger of it getting lost in transit.

How to order:

Drop me an email with your wishlist and I will let you know if the items are available.

Your payment can then be made via PayPal - ask me for the email address - and your items will be in the post as soon as possible. Remember: all parcels will be sent via registered post so you will get a tracking number and have to sign for the delivery.

¡Asi Sea!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

How to Play With the Federast Mind at the Edinburgh Fringe

The federast mind is truly a joy to behold and then laugh at. The other day I was glugging a pint or three outside a pub on Edinburgh's Royal Mile when three couples arrived and began to look at the list of beers that were on a board by the door.

"I don't know what 80/- means," said one girl who made up for her lack of knowledge with large breasts.

"The forward slash is the symbol for shillings I told her," being the decent soul that I am.

"Why is it called that?"

"Well, 'cos that was the tax paid on a barrel of the stuff back in the day," I replied. "Although these days it costs more than 80 bob for a pint of it," I concluded, ever willing to be helpful.

"What exactly is a shilling?" 

"It's a twentieth of a pound, back when we had real money."


"Better start to get used to it, as after we leave the EU all that is coming back," I said. I think the Devil was inspiring me.

"Noooo! You cannot be serious! You're joking, aren't you?

"I'm dead serious, first we get Fahrenheit back, then imperial weights and measures and then pounds. shillings and pence," I said, with my best poker face. 

"I've never heard that," said one of the blokes, in that languid drawl that the English middle class has which makes the rest of us feel murderous.

"You can trust me, I said, pointing to my Brexit T-shirt. "I'm part of the Brexit team that's working on it."

I was expecting them to burst out laughing at this, congratulate me on being a fine wag and then buy me a pint, or at least join me at the table so I could continue getting an eyeful of the girl with the bouncers but they just started looking at one another before drifting away from both the pub and me.

So, if you read in the Guardian that the Brexiteers are planning to restore the old British currency, you will know that the tale started from wicked old Uncle Ken who made it up one day in Edinburgh during the Festival.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Edinburgh Fringe Time Rolls Around Again

If it's August then it's Edinburgh Festival time when the English middle-class come up here to laugh at the same jokes, read the same publicity for the same shows published in the Guardian and tell each other how diverse they all are.

Yes, I know, you do see the odd Japanese or Indian tourist looking very bewildered by it all, but most ethnic types are to be found sweeping the streets or serving behind the bars. Think of South Africa in the old days, but without the legal enforcement and you will have a very good idea of what this city is like in August.

The satirists are still regurgitating their shows from two years ago, and still don't get the notion that satire is about sticking the boot into power, not pandering to the prejudices of those who already have it. I would find the idea of edgy satire far edgier and a lot more satirical if it took the piss out of the privileged Guardianistas, but nevermind. The Edinburgh Fringe would not be what it is if it did not involve thousands of people reinforcing their values to one another. 

This character gave a good impression of Donald Trump, Laughing at the real Trump's voter who are people who haven't had a pay rise in real terms for over a generation and who the real Trump is providing jobs for thanks to his protectionist policies, is something that the well-fed Fringers just love doing.

Give this fellow credit for not trying to be edgy, just entertaining. For a tip, he will knock out a one-page poem or short story for you. I heard him explain to one putative punter of about his own age that actually it was really hard because if you made a mistake you couldn't just press the non-existent backspace key and delete it. How did the world manage without personal computers? 

I reflected on that as I made my way to the pub to get the taste of a city chock full of sanctimonious, self-righteous, middle-class gits out of my mouth with a pint of beer.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Post-Brexit Food Supplies: Why You Should Stop Worrying

I hate the silly season these days, I really do. The dog days when Parliament is in recess so hacks do not get easily digested stories to regurgitate and have to invent stuff used to be fun, but now it has become tiresome. The main reason for this tiresomeness is the nonsense that the EU will blockade the UK and try to starve us into submission. If you think about it, this is not just tiresome, it is wank of the highest order.

A blockade of Britain such as the Federasts fantasise over is one step away from a declaration of war. For that reason alone, the EU is highly unlikely to even consider such a move. Wars have begun over less as one side tries to pressure the other and the end result is a lot of dead people. The USA tried to pressure Japan into withdrawing from Manchuria in 1941 by cutting off Japan's supplies of iron and oil. The Americans wanted Japan to back down but what they got instead was Pearl Harbour. No, the EU may be many things, but it is is not as stupid as to do that.

Another reason why a blockade is pretty much out of the question is that it would hurt an awful lot of peasant-type farmers in places like Spain who would see their major market suddenly drying up. They may very well be peasants but even peasants have votes these days so do you really believe that all those voters would just shrug their shoulders at the thought of seeing their own families go hungry and their farms declared bankrupt, just to please the EU hierarchy? 

So, exports to Britain from the EU will continue, but the problem is that the EU is quite likely to make life difficult for British exports to them. In theory, we could end up with chaos at out ports because exporters' trucks are jamming up the facilities and imports cannot get through. That is not the fault of the EU if it happens, and the blame can be placed on our government.

Given such a crisis, exporters will have to be prohibited from approaching the port unless all their paperwork is in order before they leave home. If that is done then, as the blogger Richard North pointed out, the posts should remain open for imports and supplies will get through speedily. Given that this is the same Richard North whose alarmist posts on the possibility of imports not arriving probably helped encourage the press to start their fearmongering campaign, it is good to read common sense like this from him.

Leading from all this, British farmers who export to the EU will probably dump their produce on the home market, especially if the government pays them a subsidy to encourage them, so many food items can be expected to fall in price and that is even before we start receiving supplies from the wider world. 

The only problem we have is do we trust this government not to cock-it all up? Can they be trusted to ensure that exporters do not panic and block the ports, for instance?

The question was rhetorical because of course, we can't. This government is a shower and there could be a short period when supplies do get disrupted because the shower has reverted to type and failed in its duties. For that reason, as I recomended in A Sensible Prepping Guide, it is the responsibility of all sensible people to keep a small stock of non-perishable food in the pantry to tide a family over if there are short-term disruptions to supplies for any reason.

What that means is do not wait until March next year and then panic-buy. Start now and add a few extra items to your weekly shop and you will have your supplies ready and waiting for whatever problems do occur. If nothing happens, which I still feel is the likeliest outcome, then you can rotate them though as part of your normal family meals, but do continue to keep your larder well stocked.

You never know when we might have another vile winter when you will need that pantry, and weather concerns me more than fearmongering from the press over Brexit.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Enjoy the Weather With Sensible Preparations for Next Year's Brexit Day

When I wrote A Sensible Prepping Guide earlier this year, the theme that ran through the book was the need to prepare for life's little vicissitudes by planning ahead.  That does not mean investing in a tinfoil hat and fantasising about the end of civilisation as we know it, rather it just means being aware of the stones that life tends to hurl at us and doing our best to avoid them.

In winter it gets cold, and sometimes when the thaw arrives the water pipes tend to burst, so keeping a couple of gallons of water in a cupboard makes sense to me. Similarly, the just in time system of distribution will tend to fall down in extreme weather conditions so having a pantry that is stocked with a month's worth of dry and canned foodstuffs is also a sensible way to live.

What you can't do is deal with an emergency on the hoof. Well, you can try, but it will probably end in tears or a great deal of hard work. It's being reported that shops in many parts of the country have sold out of their entire supply of electric fans and given the tropical weather that we are enjoying this year that is hardly a surprise. What is a surprise is that seemingly everyone is trying to buy their fans now, an attitude that I find completely ludicrous.

I bought my nice, 14" table fan in the late autumn of 2011. It was put in storage and every year in about May it gets hauled out and plugged in. Most years I only use it for a few days, but this year it has been running pretty much all the time. Come October it will go back into storage for another year, and that's the way to do it. My bedroom is kept cool with a fan heater that has a cold setting and that keeps the bedroom nice and airy by the way.

So the key to getting by is to make sensible plans for the future. It is not to start panicking as the readers of the Guardian are doing by worrying that food will no longer arrive in the country when we leave the European Union next year. Even if you are worried about a new version of Napoleon's Continental Blockade taking the Guardian's wanky, panicky advice is most certainly not a good idea and neither is reading the insane below the line comments from the paper's sexually self-sufficient readers.

So relax, enjoy the nice weather and if like me you don't really trust today's government or its system not to cock things up, then create a pantry for yourself with non-perishable foodstuffs that you enjoy eating and rotate them through the year, restocking as your supply gets low.

Live a sensible life, in other words, and stop believing anything you read in the Guardian.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Guardian Protects Its Poly Readership

Actually, the writer in question is a woman and not a man, but it is probably safe to assume that she holds her degrees from a real, Russell Group, university and not a double glazing firm.

Unlike the Guardian's readership who get very shirty when they are reminded of just how third-rate they are.

Monday, 2 July 2018

AMLO Is the New Mexican President

Not the greatest photo that I've ever posted to head a piece, but an important one since it was sent to me by a Mexican voter seconds after she had left the polling station having voted in the most democratic presidential election in that country's history. Her thumb was stained by a special ink that will take some days to wear off to show that she had voted and prevent her from voting again.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO to friend and foe alike, will take office on the 1st December this year for a six-year term having garnered roughly 54% of the popular vote. His coalition also has about two-thirds of the 300 seats in the House of Deputies, and may even have a majority in the 96-seat Senate. 

The importance of this election has less to do with AMLO's stunning victory and more to do with the reaction of the defeated candidates. For the first time since Mexico's first democratic election in 1994, the losers have accepted the result and congratulated AMLO on his victory.

Normally, they would do as AMLO did back in 2006 and try to use cries of foul along with street protests to undermine the new ruler. The fact that this has not happened in 2018 gives hope that Mexico has passed out of the transition phase from the old dictatorship and into a new, fully democratic era.

AMLO's victory will be greeted by the toy-town left in Britain, but it is quite likely that they will be in for a nasty surprise when they see what his policies are and where his votes come from. AMLO actually has more in common with Donald Trump than either man would like to admit, so hopefully, relations with the USA may even improve.

AMLO shares with Trump an indifference to foreign policy coupled with a dislike of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Furthermore, he was elected by people who loath it for the same reason that working people in this country hate the European Union: NAFTA involved dismantling the old, protected Mexican economic model and allowing American exports to flood into the country.

Today, thanks to NAFTA, American corn dominates the Mexican market, which is why the sons of Mexico's farmers are off a-wetbacking in the USA rather than doing as generations did before them, which was growing Mexican corn for Mexican tortillas, subsidised by Mexican pesos from the federal government.

Similarly, the days when just about any product sold in Mexico had to be made in Mexico have ended. Mexican cars may have been a generation behind what was sold in the USA, but their production guaranteed employment for tens of thousands of workers. Yes, NAFTA has led to new car plants that produce state of the art vehicles, but they do not employ the vast army that used to work in the old closed economy and nor are the workers' rights to permanent employment as guaranteed as they were.

Mexico's wealthy, and the growing middle-class who suck up to the wealthy, have done well out of the new dispensation, but the bulk of the population are as desperate for change as we were in 2016 when we told the EU to take its hook. The Mexicans want protectionism and will look to AMLO to start giving it to them, just as their counterparts in the USA look to Trump.

Another factor that may leave the western wankerati feeling left out is the fact that throughout the campaign, AMLO has said next to nothing about the social issues that the wankerati find so important. So, he is unlikely to push for a constitutional amendment that will allow abortion nationwide and nor will he seek to do anything much in the way of pandering to homosexuals, feminists and the like. Such matters will probably be left to the states and to Mexico City which has all the powers of a state, without actually being one.

Corruption was a big issue in this campaign, as was the undeclared civil war that has led to thousands of deaths. The former is something that Mexicans always say they oppose, but don't really want to do much about since they tend to dream about getting a tasty government job that will give them access to bribes. The drugs' war hopefully will be halted in the old way by calling the various participants in and offering them a deal in return for the government getting its cut of the action. That's the way that Mexico used to work, and AMLO is very much a man who believes in the old values of the country.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Sexiest Fan of the World Cup 2018 up to Now

The thing I like about the World Cup is not just the footie, but the chance it provides for drop-dead gorgeous totties to let their exhibitionist streak shine through, especially when their team wins. This little darling is an example as she flashed her tits for the lads as Argentina secured its place in the next round.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

On the Second Anniversary of Our Brexit Victory, the Federasts Still Whine Impotently

Anything up to 50,000 white, middle-class people turned up in central London today to have a walk in the sun in the hope that someone, anyone, would listen to their plaintive calls for yet another Brexit referendum.

Nobody will listen to them, partly because the rest of us are too busy watching the World Cup, but mainly because this shower of whiners just doesn't threaten anyone. The Poll Tax riots in 1990 loosened a lot of bowels, but nobody is the slightest bit interested in today's stroll by former student union types:

Another strategy would be to copy our tactics and unite behind a single party - in our case UKIP so the Lib-Dems would do for them - and then use that party to disrupt the existing party system. It didn't matter that UKIP did not win many seats, what mattered was that it stopped the two main parties from taking seats for granted by threatening to take votes of the sitting party and letting the other lot in.

Alas, the Federasts cannot do that, either, as it involves a level of organisation that is beyond them. To them, politics is what they did back in their poly days and involves nothing more than going on a march in the fond hope that exercise equals political progress. Expecting them to dedicate long decades as we did to achieve a political end is a waste of time as they are not political activists, they are merely political dilettantes.

They are also thick as pigshit, as this meme demonstrates:

If you think that Matt, a self-confessed poly-wallah was the exception then I have to tell you that he is the rule, as this fuckwit demonstrated when he fell for the same ploy:

Just what have the Federasts achieved in two long years? Aside from a few walks in the sun, always on a Saturday because types like Matt and Mark really want to overthrow the system but they have mortgages to pay and have used up all their holiday entitlement this year at whatever local government non-job they have, the answer is not a lot.

Oh, they did eventually come up with Gammon to describe us and they think that we are as insulted by that as they are when we call them Federasts. Alas for their hopes, we don't give a stuff about them, what they think or what they call us.

We are the victors and the pathetic whines of the defeated and disgraced are of interest only to give us something to mock as we head towards our Brexit.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Yet More Federast Stupidity

I put this here blog on ice about a month ago, but alas or hooray, depending on your point of view, it and I are still going. To prove it, let's have another laugh at another hysterical Federast.

Sadly, few of Vidkun Quisling's finest seem to get the message, which is why they still keep screaming abuse.

The more they scream, the more likely it is that we will have a hard Brexit. Seriously, we Brexiteers are fortunate indeed in our enemies.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Exactly One Year To Brexit!

It is now 11.00pm on the 29th March 2018. In exactly a year from now, we walk out of the European Union, not on the terms that we would like, and the aftermath will be pretty messy, but we will walk out.

Brexit, sadly, is not going to be an event, instead, it will be a process that has only just begun. We need to start arguing for the type of Britain that we want after March 2019, otherwise, our former allies on the political right will make all the running.

We voted for many economic things in 2016 and many of them are already starting to come true. When I wrote Brexit: For a New Country over a weekend in May 2016 I included this appeal to ordinary people:
Forget changing the law to restrict the entry of scab labour, forget rebuilding the unions that we once had or the Labour Party that we once had to speak for us.

Forget all that for the moment and concentrate on the notion that if foreign labour ceases to flood into the country, then almost by definition your wages will start to rise. If there is no longer a reserve army of unemployed and underemployed people then management scum will have to start offering decent wages to you and to people like you. They may hate you as much as you hate them, but they are not stupid and they need someone to actually do the bastard work that creates the wealth which they then skim off and enjoy. That someone could be you, with for the first time in your life, a decent bloody wage packet burning a hole in your pocket. 
Who can deny that this is now happening? Wages are rising and conditions are improving precisely because scab labourers no longer feel welcome in our country. That is why my 17-year-old son has more work than he can handle flipping burgers at a McDonald's and why he eagerly anticipates his 18th birthday in a month's time when he will get another pay rise and can then work the night shift which pays even more money. 

People like us understand that bastard fucking work is the price we pay for our money and companies like McDonald's know that they have to increase the wages to keep the workers now that Britain is a cold land for immigrants.

Those of us who are on the left, the real left, the left that believes in economic matters and has no interest in cultural ones, argued that case for years. It was one of the roots of our opposition to the whole EU experiment.  We were told that the economy would collapse after a Brexit vote, but two years later the economy, our economy that is, booms as it has not done for years.

Looking ahead, Labour needs to accept that position as dictated by us. If it wants our votes, then it must revert to its old, protectionist, state-support for industry base, otherwise, it will stay out of office no matter what Jeremy Corbyn says or thinks.

That is for the future. For the here and now, let us take a deep breath and look forward to the next year as we head inexorably towards the exit from the European Union.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

A Sensible Prepping Guide, Available Free Now!

A Sensible Prepping Guide is now available as an ebook from Amazon and it is completely free right up to Friday, 23rd March at 7.00am. So you have five full days to download it.

The file is not DRM encoded so you can make a free copy if you wish. I would rather you didn't, but what the hell, encoding a book file just makes the pirates more determined to break it and then gloat about their triumph all over the web. 

This e-pamphlet consists of last week's postings, with some extra material added in. I hope you enjoy having it as one file for easy reference.

Amazon UK                   Amazon USA

All I ask is that having read the book, you leave a review on Amazon.

If you do not have a Kindle reader, then you can get a free Kindle for computer or mobile app by clicking this link.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

My Ruskin College, Oxford, Posts

Late last year I was invited to write a series of posts for the Ruskin College, Oxford, website. I submitted five and the college has published the first four, with the spiked fifth post appearing here at my own blog.

To be honest, I don't blame the college for spiking the final post, since it is a depressing read as you will see in a moment. If you are trying to convince people that higher education is the road to a brighter tomorrow, then the stories of old lags like me who bought into that myth in the 1980s doesn't really help you to talk people into forking out good money to go to Oxford. At least in my day, the state paid us to study, rather than the other way around.

Here is the fifth post:

Life for a Ruskin Man After University

More than one person told me before I went to Ruskin in 1983 that if I could get a diploma from the college I would be guaranteed a job in the Labour Movement. I was also told that if I did an honours degree after Ruskin I would have my pick of jobs. Given that most union officers, researchers and an awful lot of Labour MPs were Ruskin men in those days that struck me at the time as sensible bits of advice to follow.

Unfortunately, Thatcherism turned out to be more than a passing fancy, with the result that many of us ended up with a degree and no jobs at all at the end of our student lives, so let me look back at what happened to my generation.

A few former Ruskinites ended up doing very well for themselves indeed. I can think of one man who is now a happy professor with the Open University and living in Italy. Another is a well-fed barrister and a third is a City of London solicitor who works for a major firm.

What those people had in common was that they all tended to be at the lower end of the Ruskin age-range. They also tended to be from vaguely middle-class backgrounds and something had prevented them from going to university in their late teen years, so they went to Ruskin in their very early twenties. In other words, by and large, they were people who already had the cultural norms that allowed them to fit into upper-middle-class employment patterns, coupled with a determination to do exactly that.

At the other end of the scale were people who were well into middle age when they arrived at Ruskin. Many were industrial workers who had given a lifetime to their unions and were being rewarded with a word in the right ear and a scholarship to Ruskin. They had been told that a union job or seat in the Commons would be theirs, but those promises turned out to be unfulfilled when the great industrial unions vanished along with their industries.

Sadly, after university, many of those people spent the remaining decade or so of their working lives signing on the dole until their state pensions kicked in.

However, the bulk of the eighty or so people who took their diplomas in the mid-1980s falling between those two stools, with my experience as a graduate in his early thirties being fairly typical.
After graduating in 1988 I went back to doing the last job that I had held before it all began in 1983 which involved throwing drunks out of nightclubs. A Ruskin friend of mine who had stayed at Oxford to do a degree had then gone on to take a Certificate in Further Education which qualified him to teach in the Further Education sector so at his recommendation I did the same thing at the same London college that had taken him.

My first job interview with my newly printed certificate turned out to be at a college where all the tutors were on strike, so the job that was being advertised actually belonged to someone who was stood on the picket line that was being mounted outside the main entrance. Instead of going in I stood outside with the strikers, drinking hot, sweet tea, smoking cigarettes and moaning about life in Britain.

My next interview was with a woman who told me that Ruskin was a “workerist institution,” and she doubted that I would be able to fully empathise with the “multicultural leaner experience.” It was at that point that I rather spoiled her nonsense by bursting out into mocking, raucous laughter, and then getting up and going to the nearest pub.

Many Ruskin people had already decided to go abroad. One went to Hungary just as the Cold War ended and became an English teacher.  Another, a former projectionist like me, married a South African Zulu who was also at Ruskin, and they moved to that country as soon as they could.

I ended up in Mexico, where I learned Spanish and did a variety of things both academic and otherwise. I fathered three Anglo-Mexican sons and learned to understand that poverty is far better in a warm climate than a cold one.

Had I not gone to Ruskin all those years ago I am sure that I would have spent my life in Manchester and unemployed for most of it. As it was, Ruskin gave me the skills that I have used to write my books, especially the political pamphlets that helped in some tiny way to get Britain out of the European Union. It acted as a gateway to the University of Manchester and from there to Garnett College, London. Six fat years with full grants and age addition supplements, coupled with the ability to sign on during the vacations, amounted in income terms to far more than I could have ever hope to earn as a casual, short-term worker, interspersed with long periods on the social, which was the life most working people were reduced to in those days.

That said, it did not lead to the life that I had been told would be mine before I went to Ruskin in the first place.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Sensible Prepping

Let's conclude this series of postings about prepping by summarising the themes that have emerged over the past week.

The first and most important to my mind is the notion that being prepared for a crisis that may occur is not an eccentric attitude to have. It is how the generations who lived in this country before us used to behave, and it is how many millions of people all across the planet behave to this day. The idea that things are never so bad that they can't get a bloody sight worse is a dictum that we should all take to heart and try to learn lessons from.

The second lesson is the thought that trusting the state and its agents to take over the role that for centuries was provided by robust individuals, their families and their communities is a mistake of the first order these days. The fact that a bit of snow and cold weather that lasted for about three days in late February 2018 led to a near system collapse is something that should trouble all of us. If three days led to such chaos, then imagine what three months would bring!

We have to start taking responsibility for our own well-being and stop pretending that the state or the collective incompetence of today's private businesses will do it for us. 

It is against this background that I believe that people need to make sensible preparations for future events. I have constantly used the word sensible as I honestly do not believe that even if the shit does hit the fan, then the end of civilisation will necessarily follow.

The creaking, incompetent, state machine will provide the water and rations needed to keep a population in distress alive, but it will do it badly and in its own good time. We, as rational adults have a duty to recognise that fact, and take our own precautions.

I have advised people to keep a stock of cash on hand at all times. That can be in the bank, but in an account that can be accessed at a moment's notice. People who worry about the long-term stability of sterling might wish to keep some of their savings in American dollars since the greenback is today the world's reserve currency.

Supplies of food and water should be kept in the house, with thirty days worth being my suggestion for food. I argued that some supplies would get through, anyway, so your stocks are a supplement to that, not a total replacement.

Those of you who work may think about leaving a bag at work with some basic supplies in it such as a change of clothes, sturdy walking shoes and some food bars. Motorists should never let their car's petrol tank fall below half-full and I suggest that they keep a bag or box in the boot with a blanket, water bottle and supply of cereal bars in it. Finally, learn to keep at least some cash in your wallet or purse as a matter of course. Stop relying on plastic at all times and remember my newly minted dictum that cash is king and plastic is only for plonkers. 

Finally, be sensible about all this and don't go overboard about anything. I reckon that the most that I have spent for items that were bought just to put into storage comes to roughly £100. That includes my solid fuel stove, a gas camping stove and camping heater, some gas canisters for them both, a large water container, a camping shower, a rechargeable lantern and some candles.

The rest is food that was not purchased especially for storage, it is just canned versions of the things that I eat on a regular basis. I built up the stockpile by buying a few extra cans every week until I had my complete stash and now I take items from that stash and then buy replacements as part of my weekly shopping. 

So I hope to get by, and I hope you do as well. At the end of the day that is just about all that any of us can hope to do.

Good luck to you all.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Sundry Preparations

Let's imagine that we have another killer winter like the one of 1962/63 when the whole country was snowbound from late December to early March. Let's also imagine that as the thaw sets in the pipes start to bust so water becomes a premium commodity.

You, being the responsible soul that you are, have a plentiful supply of canned goods in the house, and you may even have the means to cook if the power goes out. You have stocked up on drinking water and there is a river or canal nearby where you can get water for washing if necessary.

Now then, did you remember to get the sundry items that are needed? So, you have canned foods, but can you wash the pots that you cook them in or have you suddenly realised that you don't have any washing up liquid?  You decide to go to the lavatory and find that the toilet paper is about to run out. You are running out of clean clothes, so tell me how the stock of laundry soap is doing. Come to think of it, is your soap powder designed for a machine or can it also be used for washing clothes by hand? Had you ever thought about investing in a bar of laundry soap, or have you no idea what a bar of laundry soap even is?

You see how it works? You stock up on the big things and the smaller, sundry items get forgotten about. 

Of course, you can stock up on sundries in your emergency cupboard, but that strikes me as a waste of space and money. What I do is always have these items on hand and then go through them so as one gets used, another is purchased to take its place.

Let's take washing up liquid as an example. I live alone so don't need very much, but I still always buy the extra large bottles of the stuff. I always have one bottle in reserve and when the one in use is empty I start using the reserve and then buy another reserve when I next go to the shops.

The same is true of toilet paper. Many people who live solitary lives only buy a pack of two or four rolls, as they think that is all that they need for the month. I take the view that life is simpler if you have goodly supplies of things so I buy a 24 or 36 roll pack and when it becomes half empty I get another one to have in reserve.

What is true of washing up liquid and toilet rolls applies to just about everything that I use in the house, with the result that supplies are almost always in hand. 

Partly this attitude is to do with memories passed down to me of wartime shortages. Partly also to do with my own age since I can remember life before the massive supermarkets when corner shops were the only game in town and sometimes they did run out of supplies. However, I suspect that the main reason is to be found in all those years in Mexico where shortages are a fact of life. The corner shop across the street would run out of soap powder and unlike Britain where shops go to a wholesaler to purchase new supplies, the Mexican ones wait for a truck to make its weekly deliveries. If the delivery is not due for another week, then they would never think to go to the wholesaler themselves, they just sit behind the counter with a look of indifference on their faces. Sorry, we have no soap powder until next week.

So I got into the habit of bypassing the local shops pretty much entirely and driving to a supermarket. Alas, Mexico being what it is, sometimes they had run out of what I wanted and the staff had no idea when the next supplies would arrive. To get around that problem I just began to buy massive quantities of everything for myself and the family. Luckily, we had a very large house, so storage space was not a problem.

Back in the UK, it is obvious to me that a sophisticated, computer run, just in time system of distribution will break down because it is run by idiots and will break down at the first sign of bad weather or the like. So I live as I have always lived and keep a thirty day supply of sundries in the house. The difference between the sundries and the emergency store is that the sundries tend to be rotated through on a regular basis.

The exception to that are my backup supplies. I always keep two spare can openers in the house and my can openers are always manually operated, and of very good quality. Both were rather expensive and neither has ever been used, but I will be damned if I will be reduced to opening cans by banging a large screwdriver through the lids with a hammer.

I keep a pack of non-automatic washing powder in the emergency stash. Yes, you can hand wash with automatic powder or liquid, but it is not easy so why bother? The washing powder was cheap and can sit there forever, if necessary. I hope it is never used, but if it is needed, there it is.

Taking up far too much space in the house is a plastic tub that serves no useful purpose whatsoever, but will be needed if the power ever goes out and I need to wash clothes by hand.

By the way, have you figured out what laundry soap bars are yet? You hardly see them in this country, but they are still used in most of the rest of the world. They consist of a bar of very hard soap, about half a pound in weight, and are ideal for camping and the like since they save the need to carry powder. I bought one in Mexico and brought it home with me for my stash, but then lent it to a Guatemalan lady who begged it from me. Needless to say, women being women, she has never replaced it, so Maria Teresa if you are reading this, when can I expect my replacement bar of laundry soap?

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Everyday Carrying Items

If you have decided to keep a bag at work in case of emergencies then you will probably not be adverse to the idea of having items about your person, or in your everyday briefcase or handbag, to use when a crisis occurs.

What you carry is up to you, based on your assessment of what could conceivably happen as part of your daily commute. Please note, that I did write conceivably in the last sentence, so let's forget about EMP strikes, foreign invaders parachuting onto our shores or people turning into zombies. That said, looking at most commuters these days I often wonder how many of them are already zombies.

Some years ago I watched a television report about a train wreck on the outskirts of London. A man was interviewed who carried a hammer in his briefcase and had used it to break the windows in his carriage to get himself and others out of the train.

The interviewer was fascinated by this suited commuter with an office worker's briefcase who carried a hammer in it. The fellow then explained that a few years earlier he had been in another train crash and had found that the hammers provided in carriages to break the windows in case of an emergency were little better than children's toys, so he started carrying a real hammer that could be used to break real train windows.

Back in 2010, I was living in Putney, London, for a few months. One fine day I was having a drink in a pub - the Spotted Horse, Putney High Street, if you must know - and I fell to chatting with a woman of about my own age, so born in the mid-1950s, who had survived the 7/7 bombings. She had been on one of the underground trains, although luckily so far away from the bomb that she and the other passengers in her carriage had no idea that they had suffered a terrorist attack. The general consensus at first was that the train had been involved in a collision.

However, all the lights went out, and people had to sit in darkness for quite some time. In those days not all mobile phones had built-in torches so there was only the light provided by cigarette lighters and the odd torch that someone had.

The passengers were eventually led out of the train and as the realisation dawned on people what had happened her nervousness led to a great thirst, which she was not able to quench as the people who had got off the train earlier had grabbed all the bottled water that had been available in the nearest shop.

Since that horrible event, she had carried first a torch and then a set of lightsticks, the long, plastic tubes that have chemicals inside and when bent allow those chemicals to mix to create light. Some can last for several hours, and others are only good for about 30 minutes. She went for the latter type since they give off a very bright light that will illuminate a whole room or underground train carriage.  She concluded, rather sadly I thought, that she had used the lightsticks on several occasions.

The lessons from those two stories are that British infrastucture really is so atrocious as to be a national embarrassment and that people have to be prepared to take care of their own immediate needs. It is not an individual's fault that the infrastructure is only held together by duct tape, epoxy resin glue and a prayer, but we are responsible for our own lives. So we need to analyse our daily situation and decide what we should carry on the off chance that things will go wrong as part of the day.

Now, not everyone will feel the need to carry a hammer to break out of a wrecked train, or lightsticks to illuminate a darkened carriage, as it may be that those items are regarded by most people as excessive. However, a fully charged mobile phone, with a small power pack carried in a pocket or handbag, also fully charged, strikes me as fairly basic. That the handset should also have a built-in torch goes without saying. A reasonable amount of cash to cover times when the plastic is no good for whatever reason is also a matter of common sense to me.

Above all else, is the realisation that the state machinery is now creaking at best and that we are now as responsible for our own immediate needs as our ancestors in the years before the welfare state was created.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Get Home Bags

If any reasonably sane person starts to investigate get-home bags they will be stunned to see the recommendations that are put forward by the so-called experts in the preparation field. Bags that seem to include guns, large amounts of ammunition and seriously dangerous knives are all opened up and photographed by people who seem to think that the contents really will be of any use to anyone. Either that, or it is their idea of pornography.

That said, even though I have no real use for a get-home bag I will recommend that you keep one at work, if possible. I have no use for such a bag on account of the fact that I am retired, but for those who work away from home,  a get-home bag, kept at work, could very well turn out to be very useful indeed.

Just take it seriously, be British about it, and don't go off the wall by stocking everything in it. You are not trying to get home from the other side of the world since the vast majority of British people work within ten miles of their home. So you really don't need any of the junk that you will be recommended to have if you do a Google search for get-home bags.

On the 7th July 2005, London was subjected to a set of vicious terrorist attacks that left 52 people dead and a transport system that closed down completely whilst the state figured out just what exactly had hit the city. The buses outside the centre started to operate in the late afternoon, with some of the underground system starting up again the next morning.

In Edinburgh, during the mid-evening of the 28th February 2018, the snowstorm stopped all the buses and most of the taxis, with the bus service not restarting until the late morning of the 2nd March.

In both cities people found themselves stuck with no means of getting home, although it must be said that it was less of a problem in Edinburgh as the storm hit after most people had finished work and headed for home. In London, since the attacks came in the morning rush hour, tens of thousands of people found themselves trapped at work with no means of getting anywhere. 

Some walked, others took a hotel for the night, with very many other bedding themselves down in their offices until the chaos outside had calmed down.  It is for people in that situation that the idea of a get-home bag with three days supplies in it was thought up.

Do you really expect to be stuck for three days? Realistically, no, so the reason why you should have three days worth of supplies in the bag is that it is always better to be safe than sorry. Besides, you may end up helping out your less prepared workmates.

If you think that you may one day have to sleep at work then remember that any idiot can be uncomfortable, so try and plan to be as comfortable as possible. A sleeping mat does not cost very much and takes up hardly any space rolled up. A sleeping bag may be seen as an unnecessary expense, but cheap, summerweight bags can be had for a very reasonable price and they hardly take up any room in a bag. Given that you will be sleeping in a building, not out in the wilds, such a sleeping bag would be fine all year round.

If you are going to have to march ten miles home then a decent pair of walking shoes are just essential, as is comfortable clothing that you can walk in. Ladies, you may look great in your Armani suit with a pair of killer heels on your feet, but do you really want to be pounding the pavements like that?

If the crisis hits in the winter then you will probably be wearing outerwear for the elements, but for the summer months, a raincoat might be an idea for your bag. It may have been bright sunshine when you left the house, with the long-range forecast predicting weather like that all week, but this is the UK and we all know that weather forecasts are a work of fiction so tomorrow you could find yourself walking home in torrential rain.

Underwear, T-shirts, socks, that's where your three-day supplies start. The weight is minimal, but the need could very well turn out to be great.

Food should also be in the bag. Go for the energy and breakfast bars that you can find in any supermarket. Stick a load in the bag, along with anything else that is easy to transport and needs no cooking. Realistically, there will be plenty of cafes open, unless it is an unexpected snowstorm that hits you, in which case they probably won't be, so stock up and be sure of being safe rather than ever being sorry.

Water is a must, or rather a couple of plastic bottles that you can refill. We may only get scorching hot summers once in a while, but Sod's Law dictates that you will have to go on your long march on a day when the thermometer is in the 90s.

A mobile phone charger, because again Sod's Law will ensure that your mobile telephone runs out of juice, along with the power pack that you carry in your pocket at all times. You do carry such a power pack, don't you? Of course you do...

A few quid in small denomination notes and change will come in handy if the terminals stop working or you find yourself in a cash-only shop. The change means that you can use a payphone on the street if you can find one these days. In the hours after the 7/7 atrocities, pretty much all the mobile phone signals were out of action because everyone was trying to call home at the same time. The sensible thing would have been to send boring old texts which did get through, but people wanted to hear voices, or they didn't think, either way, the mobile network was swamped.

You might even want to keep a very cheap, very simple mobile phone that is only good for calls and texts in your bag. It might be an idea to have one that works on another network to your usual handset. That way if one network is swamped you have at least the chance of the other being free.

Finally, a small notebook with all your important people and their contact details written in it. Yes, I know that nobody remembers phone numbers these days and we all have them stored in the mobile's memory, so what happens if you lose the damned handset? I accept that this is unlikely to happen, but for the sake of a small amount of space, where's the harm in keeping those important details written down on paper?

The above are just suggestions, so obviously you can add or delete whatever you wish from your own bag, according to your own needs and priorities as you assess them to be.

What I would say is don't go overboard on this. Statistically, you only have to walk ten miles at most to get home. There will be plenty of people with you, all making the same journey and whenever a crisis hits people cooperate with each other. For instance, when my car got stuck in a snowdrift in early 2018, a man galloped off to his house to grab his snow shovel to help dig the car out of the drift so I could get on my way. The drivers of the other cars that were blocked in by my vehicle sat patiently until my car was freed and then when I managed to park up on the main road, they slowed down to check that I was alright.

So don't worry, as you are with your own people in your own country, and you can help each other.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Power Outage Backups

I have the bad fortune to live in a house that is all-electric, so I do not have the option of switching from mains gas to mains electric, or vice-versa, in the case of an emergency. That being so I have had to go down the camping gas route as my main power outage backup.

The single burner camping stove pictured above is available under many different names, which are probably all made by the same factory in China. It costs less than £20 and uses the CP250 gas canisters that are available at most camping and motoring shops. It comes with its own plastic case and along with half a dozen gas canisters, space has been found for this cooking backup in my emergency pantry.

Small camping heaters that also use the CP250 gas canisters are also readily available for about the same price as the stove, and one of them is on my list to purchase before the end of 2018. We had no power outages this year, but a lot of people did, so items like this strike me as essential elements of a getting by strategy.

Let's be honest, at my age and in my lousy health, any time spent cooking with this stove and getting what heat I can from that heater is going to be a very miserable time indeed. That said, I will be able to heat some hot food and keep one room slightly above freezing, at least until the last gas canister runs out.

My backup for the backup, as it were, is an Esbit solid fuel stove, the simplest version of which retails for under £10.00. This gadget has been standard British army issue for very many years now and it is not much bigger than a packet of cigarettes. It opens up to create legs for the stove to stand on and a holder for a pan to rest. Solid fuel tablets are placed in the unit's base and lit with a match. If it works for the British army then it should work for the likes of me in a real, dire emergency.

Lighting will come from a rechargeable lantern until its charge dies, and then candles, of which I have a goodly stock.

Traditionally, my family kept paraffin in the house since my father was a keen gardener and had a paraffin heater in his greenhouse. When Britain had the power outages in the early to mid-1970s my mother dug out the oil lamp that she had in storage along with the heads of a few more that she had stuck in a drawer when the lamps had got broken. She then washed out some old jam jars to use as reservoirs. I was asked to go to the local ironmonger's on my way home from work to see if he still had any glass chimneys in stock and I remember coming home with half a dozen of them.

By the time the first power cut hit, our house could be illuminated as if we still had electricity, all thanks to my dad's love of gardening and my mother's refusal to throw anything out. Meanwhile, neighbours were reduced to hunting further and further afield for candles, which quickly sold out in the few shops that stocked them.

Today I do not have a garden and I do not feel that I can justify a gallon or so of paraffin in my house on the off-chance that it will be needed to light the property one day. If I could afford it I would install solar panels that connected to a set of marine batteries that would then give out 240 volts via a power inverter, but I cannot afford that expense, either.

Like most responsible people I cut my cloth according to my purse, and my purse can run to enough candles to keep some light in the house until the power is restored.

My mobile 'phone can be charged with a large power bank, with the bank and the lantern then being recharged in the car, using the mobile 'phone charger that I have in the vehicle which plugs into the cigarette lighter socket.  This assumes that I can get to the car, of course, and if the crisis involves large amounts of snow that may not be an option for someone who can barely walk at the best of times. That said, given that the mobile 'phone towers need electricity to work and that the backup generators need refuelling, a fully charged mobile 'phone may not be top of my agenda in a major blackout.

Luckily, even though today's landline telephones need electricity to work, I have a simple, old-fashioned telephone that only needs to be plugged in to make and receive calls. It sits in a box as part of my emergency stash, patiently waiting its turn to be used should the need arise.

The sad thing about all of this is that much of it is so very avoidable. Big cities in the UK rarely have power outages, but given that Britain only has a twenty days reserve of natural gas and many of the power stations are fueled by gas that may not be the case in the future. By way of contrast, the USA has a six-month supply of gas in its strategic reserve, but the British seem to think that twenty days is enough.

Of course, the country still has some coal-fired power stations and there are millions of tons of coal beneath our feet, but the European Union insists on countries ceasing to use coal-fired stations and even after we are free of that body it is unlikely that coal will restart this side of a major national catastrophe that leaves the country in darkness for quite some time.

So, we plan for future events based on the situation as it exists at the moment, not on how we would wish the country to be. Indeed, part of the reason why we make preparations for a potential crisis is that the country is not run as we want it to be and that fact frightens us a great deal.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Feeding Yourself

"There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy," said  Alfred Henry Lewis in 1906. Food is more important in the popular mind than water, even though we can last far longer with an empty stomach than a dry mouth. If food supplies are disrupted for more than three or so days then governments fear that a panic-stricken populace will start to attack the supermarkets that still have stock, and then riot if they find them empty.

If you talk about prepping to people they will often think about a cellar full of enough canned foods to last a decade. I tend to the view that a thirty-day stockpile is enough for most conceivable emergencies and my cupboard is stocked with that in mind. If you think about it rationally, even in the direst of circumstances, enough food gets through to keep a population from starving, especially in the civilised world, although it has been touch and go at times.

A good example of this would be Berlin in April 1945 as the Soviet artillery began to pound the city prior to the final assault. On the 22 April, the city authorities handed out what they called "advance rations" that were to be consumed during the coming battle when the normal daily ration could not be maintained. The diarist Marta Hiller queued for two hours in the rain to collect "250 grams of course-ground grain, 250 grams of oatmeal, 2 pounds of sugar, 100 grams of coffee substitute and a can of kohlrabi." She noted in the diary that was later published anonymously as A Woman in Berlin that the meat and sausage that should have formed part of that advance ration was not supplied at her distribution point, but it was something.

The Berlin authorities continued to supply the normal rations to the people until each distribution point was overrun by the Soviet troops. The city had fallen by the end of April and by the end of May the Soviet occupiers had begun to distribute their ration cards to the people, and by June the shops were starting to reopen with the authoress noting that even a ladies' hairdresser had established his operation, provided his customers could bring their own hot water for a wash and set.

So, a thirty-day supply of basic foodstuffs strikes me a sensible approach to take for most possible emergencies. I might add that this is a policy that I have followed for many years now, probably since before the whole idea of survivalism or being a prepper was even thought up. It's just the way that people used to behave in the old days and the way that they still do in the more backward parts of the world today.

 As I have said elsewhere, my mother was a proto-prepper with her drawer full of items that might come in handy in an emergency, and my years in Mexico reinforced the cultural values that I inherited from her. It is not that Mexico is really down at the bottom of the international heap, but things don't work as well as they did in the Great Britain that I knew, so supplies did not always get through due to basic national incompetence. The fact that Great Britain now does not work as well as it did, and has adopted some of the traits of national incompetence that were formerly only found in the third world only serves to encourage me to keep a full larder well stocked with non-perishable foodstuffs.

I stocked my emergency pantry by buying an extra can or two of everything that was on my weekly shopping list, anyway. I reasoned that if I don't like eating something on a day to day basis I was hardly going to become a fan because by being forced to eat it if normal supplies became interrupted. So buying things especially for the stockpile makes no sense to me.

The cans of baby potatoes that I keep in storage are the main exception to that rule. Being the good Northerner that I am, no meal is complete without spuds on the plate, but since fresh potatoes cannot be kept long term I did stock up on the canned variety just to keep in. I use mashed potatoes a lot, so packets of instant mash were bought on the same basis as the canned goods when it came to the initial stocking of the emergency 30-day pantry.

Bread is another item that just cannot be stored for long, unless it is kept in a freezer. For a man living alone like me that is less of a problem than it is for a family, since a housewife will obviously need every inch of freezer space available for other things. That being the case a stock of good bread flour and packets of yeast might be kept in the kitchen. Alternatively, ready made mixes can be bought and kept in the emergency pantry.

Many preppers keep powdered milk in their emergency stockpile, but I don't. In fact, there is no milk at all in that pantry because what I use on a day to day basis is UHT milk which comes in a carton that lasts for months without refrigeration. I buy two or even three boxes of the milk and use it as part of my normal life. When I am down to the last box of 12 cartons, I go and buy another one or two boxes. That policy has nothing to do with being prepared for emergencies, and everything to do with being the way I am. I have always liked to have on hand a large stock of the items that I use every day and then I go through them until the stock is reduced by about half and then more is bought. For the life of me, I will never understand the people who only buy a small box of about 40 teabags when giant ones of 360 are available.

You should remember that you will almost certainly have fresh foods in your refrigerator, and probably quite a few cans and fresh vegetables in your normal pantry. Obviously, when word reaches you of the looming crisis you will go to your local supermarket and buy in extra supplies, and if you are reading this piece then you are probably the type of person who keeps an eye on both the news and the weather reports, so you should be able to buy extra supplies before most people wake up to the fact that supplies are about to be disrupted.

Thus, you will actually have far more than a basic thirty-day ration in your house on the day that the storm breaks or the zombies arrive.

So relax and stock up now with sensible amounts of canned foods and you will be fine for most emergencies.
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