The International Writers Magazine
:Doom and Gloom Special

2006 February
May you live in dangerous times - Welcome to the Year of the Dog
Sam North

grew up with Armageddon. It was everywhere. No, not the movie, the real deal, nuclear devastation. My school was next to a rocket range – Vulcan bombers carrying atomic weapons used to bank over our playing fields and no one was more sure of world devastation than me and most of my pals.

For most of us we’d sit up late in the dorms at night discussing exactly what was the point of learning anything when we were all going to be fried alive sooner or later.

I remember reading Neville Shute’s ‘On the Beach’ and being VERY upset when I was told I was too young to see the movie. I was first in line to see ‘Fail-Safe’ but again shut out of ‘How I learned to love the bomb’. You could say I pretty sure that the world was going to end in a big bang and I didn’t even live in a religious household. Philip K Dick was my god and it was my mother who bought them all and gave them to me to read from about the age of six. I never really understood much first time around but as I got older I re-read all of them and completely understood his paranoia. Hell, some kids built tree houses; I dug a fall out shelter…
MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) was just around the corner and I made no plans for a career. Come 1989 and the fall of the Berlin wall, all my chickens came home to roost. Without a nuclear winter to look forward to, it meant that I had totally screwed up my life. I had no pension plan, no real career (being a writer apparently doesn’t count) and come 1990 I had to face reality and get a job for real. Hence here I am 16 years later teaching; still hardly any pension, but allegedly gainfully employed with a miserable old age to look forward to.

But things are looking up. Armageddon is back on the menu, the clock is once again at five to midnight and my aged Ma, who is tended to by Jehovah Witness carers who seem to be smiling much more often these days. They of course will be saved when the shit hits the fan. I will be damned naturally.

So many things are conspiring to a wonderful convergence of doom. In 1989 Russia was doomed and bankrupt, sixteen years later the Russian KGB as ‘entrepreneurs’ or gangsters to you and me, control the world porn industry and the thermostat in your living room. They can and will and have shut off the gas to let people freeze to death this winter and they will do so again in order to maximise profits from gas. Pity those in Georgia and Ukraine this year, but pity us next as Gazprom are planning to buy Centrica, one of our main UK Gas suppliers.

As I walked to work the other day I noted a headline that not only has the UK practically run out of gas, oil, but now water too. Reservoirs are down to 35% in January and it might be stand-pipes in the street this summer. Last night’s news on C4 showed a map of what the UK will look like when the Arctic melts from global warming. Apparently London is under water, most of East Anglia and Lincolnshire and Portsmouth, where I currently reside.

Add to this Iraq, little need be said about that quagmire, but for real assurance that Armageddon is back on track, Iran with nuclear weapons must surely bring a grim smile to your lips. Knowing they can deliver them by their missiles to Israel and even Italy if they wanted to, means that Israel will be ready to retaliate, if not pre-emptively, attack a nation that wants to wipe them off the middle eastern map. If that isn’t enough for you Hamas has been elected in Palestine, totally dedicated to the elimination of Israel and it’s people from the map. You could say that Israel has exacerbated the problem by allowing the now - in- a- coma PM Sharon to bully all around him these past years. His aggression has resulted in an equally aggressive political/religious group coming to power. Sharon is gone from power but this tense situation is his legacy.

When I was growing up religious nuts always swore Armageddon would happen in our lifetime, in and around Israel in particular, and it would be the end of the world. It was always going to be five minutes to midnight, I ignored them; I had my own scenario centred upon Moscow. That’s where the world would end, but er - it seems the nutters were right all along. Now I wish I’d paid a tad more attention.

Nevertheless, I must straightaway add that, not only have their predictions been consistently wrong these past fifty years, but I have been consistently wrong about everything for the past twenty-five. You name it, recessions, inflation, house prices, the whole global economy. I was never prepared to conceive of an entire world economy based upon debt – massive debt. Every year I begin certain a crash will come and every year I am confounded.

So too then I will be wrong about Armageddon. I have to surely conclude that even fanatics will not unleash nuclear war that will martyr entire Arab and Israeli populations and take out the world’s oil fields as well. Surely they want world domination not world incineration. Should Iran have nuclear power? Well ask yourself this. They have enough oil to last 400 years. More than enough to keep their air-conditioners running wouldn't you think. Their purpose in having nuclear power cannot be seriously considered 'peaceful' given their current regime and President. Israel knows this. Israel has no oil, by the by, and their excuse for nuclear is for electric power but of course thanks to Mordechai Venunu we know differently. But in such a volatile place, you could argue that no one should have nuclear power in the world's biggest oil region.
Where the oil is, is of course where the fundamentalists are and they have the means and scientists to wreak havoc should they wish to. It's not down to good guy v bad guy. It makes no sense to have any source of enriched uranium in that region.

We can see how unstable the whole region is right now as millions of devotees of Islam protest and threaten suicide bombers against Denmark, France, Holland and others for printing satirical cartoons of Mohammed. Satire doesn't exist in Arab nations because there is no freedom of speech, no tradition of tolerance. No understanding of the west. Scratch this surface and you can see how the Taliban came into existance and how quickly they could come back. Bin Laden, remember him, is the real face of fundementalist protest. Dead or alive. But allowing Muslim extremists to hijack this cartoon protest and call for a 'Day of Anger' they are effectively reinforcing the negative westen view of Islam. We are on the road to losing our rights to freedom here in the UK as more and more oppressive legislation gives the government and the police more power to silence anyone who practices it. We are in effect doing Bin Laden's job for him. To what end?

'If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever. ...when we can cut a man from his past, then we can cut him from his family, his children, other men. There is no loyalty, except loyalty to the party...' Orwell 1984 Screenplay

Armageddon is a thrill for those who seek hell on earth and the religious right in the US is just as guilty for pushing all the wrong buttons on this. Some folks, those who dig holes and arm themselves for civil unrest and hoard canned food, thrive on confrontational politics.

But I want to live in a world where I don’t have to wear a radiation suit to go shopping and I want fresh coffee in Café Nero and read newspapers where free speech is permitted. Where suicide bombers are not permitted to roam our streets for any cause. I haven’t even got around to Google caving into China’s censors…(But I am very disappointed with them.)

Armageddon is a sick fantasy for those who perhaps feel life never gave them a chance. Well here’s the news – death won’t either. There are no chosen few, no safe places, the Kingdom of Heaven will not be established on earth as long as it is radioactive.

So politicians, seek solutions please. Give Peace A Chance – as someone once said (Yes I know who)
My motto for 2006 ‘enjoy what you can, when you can, with whom you like’ – that’s my antidote to Armageddon tyranny.
Next time around, vote for people who will wage peace – OK. It just might be your last chance.
© Sam North Feb 2006

Sam is the author of 'The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery'
ISBN 1-4116-3748-8
$19.98 - 300 pages - Lulu Press USA- 'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday Express
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