• neil

Day 47 (3 May): Me again

Being prepared

My brother says anything can happen in life and we should believe in miracles. I’m working on it.

As a first exercise I have convinced myself that Margot Robbie will call round today.

With the help of a cup of olive oil on the outside and a wee dram on the inside I have spent half the morning squeezing into my best latex play suit. I seem to have gained a kilo or two during confinement but I’m not worried as Margot has probably been living off cake and creme eggs too.

All this just to explain that I’m bloody uncomfortable and it’s not today you should expect ‘War and Peace’.


After writing to you yesterday afternoon I was feeling peckish for a little toasted cheese. Having no bread in the house I set to baking a couple of crusty brown loaves.

They turned out perfect. You know bread is going to be good if it sounds hollow when you turn it over and tap it on the bottom. This only seems to works with bread and almost certainly is no way to pick a partner.

Baking my own bread and planting enough veggies to feed a small but greedy family of slugs has been as far as I have progressed on the path to self-sufficiency. Having read a little about ‘preppers’ during this crisis I must say I am not tempted to go any further.

I have always been more than a touch sceptical about the whole idea of preparing for Armageddon. Where do you draw the line?

Should you be planting rubber trees and moulding tyres for your Humvee? Should you be growing fields of maize for biofuel? Should you be mining the ores, smelting the steel and building the Humvee bolt by home-made bolt?

Clearly there are limits. Survival would seem to boil down to :

  • Growing as much of your own food as you can

  • Preserving as much food as you can

  • Stockpiling antibiotics, fishhooks, twine, water purifiers, viagra, Cadbury’s Cream Eggs, diesel fuel, clean underwear and axe blades,

  • Having your own water source and generating your own electricity

It seems such a life-sapping activity. Every waking hour neglecting living so that you can live when life isn’t worth living.

Once you have used those stocks you will be left with what you can hunt, trap, gather or steal. And the day it does hit the fan and you are sitting smugly on the top of that pile of goodies? That will be the day your fun-loving, care free waster of a neighbour turns up with a Carl Gustav anti tank rocket and takes the lot.

No thank you. Those twenty tins of lentils? They’re in the garage and that’s where they are staying.

Going Walkies

In a happier vein ( no substance abuse or needles involved) I was reflecting again on where I would have been today had I not been confined to barracks. I should have been some three quarters of the way on my walk from Cluny in Burgundy to Santiago de Compostela. I am addicted to these long walks.

It is partly the walking itself, the countryside, villages, streams and mountains. But its also the camaraderie which comes with meeting and walking with people of all ages and backgrounds from all over the world.

Of course there are downsides. Sleeping in bunkbeds with thirty people in one room is one part fun, two parts farts and three parts snoring. It is loonies (you know who you are and you know you are German) getting up at 4 a.m. and seemingly packing full drum kits into rucksacks while making maximum use of head torches as search lights.

It is the woman who talks in her sleep; not the odd word but whole sentences. Will she tell us where she put the bodies?

It is late afternoons, arriving hot and exhausted at a pilgrim shelter, carefully hand-washing socks, knicks, pants and T-shirt, hanging them up to dry and then walking off and leaving them behind the next day. It is tapas and wine, beers and whining. It is bed bug avoidance through paper sheets tucked over blue plastic mattress covers.

And the occasional glass boat of gin and tonic in a Parador along the way. I’m not above a bit of luxury.

A picture speaks volumes - so here are a couple more one minute clips of me babbling which might give you a bit of the flavour of the thing. They are from 2016 on the way from Sevilla to Santiago. Probably. Could be anywhere. I really must get a needle for that compass.

Get somebody on a video link and tell them you love them.



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