In the 1980s, when we were still up to our knees in the Cold War, I remember my dad bringing home a basic traing manual from the Army base where he worked.
It was compulsive reading for an eight year old – I learnt the basics of how to set up an ambush, how to attack an occupied building… Oh and how to survive a nuclear apocolypse. Apparently it’s quite simple – if you see a mushroom cloud, you calmly lie down behind a convenient rock or tree, interlace your hands behind your head and press your nose into the ground.
Even at that tender age, I fully understood that if you followed this advice, it would be the only tip of your nose that you pressed into the earth that would remain if you happened across a detonating mushroom cloud.
Other useful tips in the excellent Government produced Basic Battle Skills included the advice to avoid looking directly at the explosion as this could damage your eyesight – quite how you could avoid looking at a flash happening before you at the speed of light is beyond me. And why you would worry about a change in your prescription as your entire head melts like a wax candle is also purely academic.
Thinking back on it now, it probably was pretty good advice. I suppose lying down and pressing your nose into the ground is the only sensible thing you can do, and at least it would be more relaxing than standing up.
There’s a fun US government website called www.ready.gov which provides some heartwarming advice.
Here are some things that you and your family need to know – in bold letters it helpfully tells us “Taking shelter during a nuclear blast is absolutely necessary”
I can imagine asking an official as the horizon erupts into a fireball and blots out the sun: “Is it absolutely necessary to shelter – I mean it’s all so frightully ghastly isn’t it?”
It’s also good to prepare ahead of time – here’s what you can do to protect yourself: create an emergency supply kit.
Some of the useful items listed include a fire extinguisher, presumably to fire at your own face as it drops off and grins back at you from the floor.
Pet food for your pet – seems a little odd, because Rover is probably going to have to rapidly become human food before he starts eyeing you up as a handy food source yourself.
Your bank account records – I’m guessing that one of your top priorities will be to find a cash point machine to withdraw some notes before then realising that small pieces of paper actually mean nothing in a post apocolyptic wasteland.
A complete change of clothing – presumably an important consideration if want to dress nice and smart after receiving an invitation from that nice couple from fallout bunker number 408 to stagger over to their’s for a spot of rat fondue.
I think that there’s scope for an honest advice publication detailing what to do in the event of a nuclear war – in fact I shall share my first draft with you.
It goes like this:
In the event of a nuclear war – relax, there’s nothing to do now, It’s over to the cockroaches – hopefully they will evolve to do a better job.
It’s been a blast.