Just had some interesting discussions with Sam about his ‘new scheme’ of buying a place in the country instead of in Bristol. Not that we can buy anywhere as yet, with the ‘For Sale’ sign growing mildew in the front garden… but the gist of the idea is that we buy somewhere less likely to be beset by riots and looting in the event of increasing resource scarcity. Our original plan was Greenbank, Easton where I imagined living in a strong community of friends old and new, and our kid/s playing in the cemetery over the pedestrianised road. We discovered this morning that both the houses we wanted to buy on Greenbank road have gone, which is a real blow- but I was still thinking of that area as our future family home.
Sam painted a picture of that area in a few years’ time under siege from hungry people, no longer heading for retail outlets but ripping up veg patches and looking for money and valuables in people’s houses. A house we no longer want to live in but definitely can’t sell. Fleeing from said area without assets, essentially homeless… no different to anyone renting or homeless already, and without the strength in numbers probably less well off than those living in a squat community or in trucks.
The ‘new scheme’ consists of buying in a rural area where food growing land is abundant, population is sparser and reliance on scavenging and stealing is therefore reduced. Cornwall maybe. Where we don’t know anybody and have no work contacts and there’s currently hardly any infrastructure unless you’re going to drive for miles.
Beyond our personal situation this raises another question- is it easier to create a local food economy and basic infrastructure somewhere rural and sparsely populated, where it’s dwindled in favour of out of town Tesco etc, or in an urban area where it never existed but there are a lot of people in close proximity who might be willing to help?
Anyway, the initial idea was to buy somewhere there, and rent it out while we live in Bristol. I am not sure that would work- I suspect being an absentee landlord is a lot more trouble than it seems on paper- and on an emotional level hate the idea of hedging our bets like that, never fully committing to either community, and when things get too tough where we live evicting someone from our rural place and implanting ourselves there while Bristol burns. We just got finished watching the great David Simon series ‘Treme’ about post-Katrina New Orleans, and everybody struggling to carry on with their lives and rebuild. All those guys want is for everybody else to come back and help them sort it out. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking series so watch it if you can. I’ve probably allowed it to cloud my judgment somewhat… 😉
I also took issue with the subversive glee Sam takes in informing me of each new twist in his apocalyptic thought processes. I feel like he really gets something from watching me struggle with each new development, and I start to feel like maybe it’s not always about survival- that some of it is about one-upmanship and keeping a few steps ahead of ‘the wife’. Uncharacteristically he referred to me as ‘the wife’ on his Peak Oil forum and asked the other (overwhelmingly male) survivalists for advice on how he could ‘get round the wife’ and execute his plan- I felt like it was the bloody 50’s again and I should maybe be building him a shed to hide in from ‘the wife’, whoever she is supposed to be…
That disturbs me for a number of reasons. Firstly because it really brings home how impossible it is to unpack your motivations in life with any clarity. People keep telling me ‘with all this worrying and talking about ‘the end of the world’, you’ll bring it on!’ And of course ‘confidence’ has always been a huge factor in the stability of the markets. Our feelings and thoughts do create our reality in countless ways. So if I am thought of as a pampered obstacle, resistant to change, attached to material things, that Sam has to drag kicking and screaming into a scary world of deprivation and hard knocks- and if that is a view of me and himself that is important to Sam- maybe stemming from material differences in how we grew up- then of course the plan has to keep changing and the imagined future has to get darker and darker as I reluctantly adapt to each new phase. And then we’re veering into tinfoil hat territory. We’d be better off solving that kind of problem in couples counselling than in an allotment or on a sailboat.
Those dark thoughts aside, the economic crash is a reality. So is climate change. So is Peak Oil. We need to be able to look at those things with as few personal distortions as possible. And here’s another thing that bothers me. In the light of those things, in a world where we can rely less and less on petroleum and the National Grid to do our heavy lifting, are we headed into a future where the gains of feminism are drastically reduced? Where might equals right again, and all your post-feminist posturing about how ‘liberated’ your vajazzle makes you feel will seem ludicrous compared with a real regression to the bad old days. How do we urban arts and media ladies with our vintage hairdos and humorous kitsch jewellery fancy being relegated to the home sphere again cos our upper body strength doesn’t cut it in the brave new world? Time to start working out, ladies… see you at aerial rope class?