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Not Sanata - John EvansBy John Evans

Back in 1980 I was doing business with a company supplying the survivalist movement and writing for a magazine entitled ‘Protect and Survive Monthly’ so all this is very old hat to me. One of my claims to fame at the time is that an article I wrote was criticised during the 1980 Dimbleby Lecture. The speaker was Lord Denning and he actually held up the piece, which contained advice on the purchase and use of firearms for self-defence. The point I was trying to make was that if you bought yourself a fallout shelter and buried it in your garden (I was working with the company who made the shelters) you better be prepared to defend it if the apocalypse came.

It was an interesting time, both my parents had been in Civil Defence until it was shut down in the 1960s. The senior science officer in CD was also senior science master at my grammar school. I’d attended many of their training sessions (I was competent in the use of their radios by the time I was eight!) and exercises so was already well briefed in emergency planning. After CD was run down government policy boiled down to little more than decentralising everything important and sealing off the bomb damaged areas. There was even a joke emergency procedures poster in circulation that ended ‘When the you see the big flash put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye!’

Because we were so vulnerable, during his first term Harold Wilson went as far as ordering the V-bomber force not to launch retaliatory strikes if WWIII broke out. They were to be flown to Goose Bay in Canada (dumping the nuclear weapons in the sea en route) and destroyed to prevent sensitive equipment getting into the wrong hands. When things began to heat up a bit in the late 1970s the government issued the infamous ‘Protect and Survive’ booklets. People then suddenly realised just how bad things were and started to make their owns plans although I don’t think many of the shelters were ever sold. My business sold a fair amount of basic survival equipment and also supplied a special version of the Mossberg pump-action shotgun, which was nothing more than a police riot gun with a 24″ barrel to make in legal in the UK.

The whole survivalist thing died out over here when Communism folded but in the mid-1990s it started to re-emerge as people started to realise that just about everything we rely on in our daily lives was vulnerable to cyber attacks. I think what the Mirror latched onto is the logical extension of this but the reality is that serious survivalists don’t boast about it because going public is very likely to put you in MI5’s files.

Whatever, that experience is all proving very useful in the rural area I live in now. We’ve already had one 11-hour power outage this winter and there’s been no significant weather yet. Where I lived in 2010/11 we had snow and -17C, all the roads were pretty much impassable and central heating oil froze in the pipes. A few years before the village had been without power for a week. I’m stocked up with tinned food, bottled water and beer, bottled gas, batteries, rechargeable lighting and 12v back-up power with a solar recharger. When the power goes out I get myself up and running in a few minutes – no TV or internet but pretty much everything else. The only area not covered is my car – ideally this should be a diesel because one thing we are not short of is the ‘red’ diesel they use on farms. That is much easier (and safer) to store than petrol and can be hand pumped from 55 gallon drums.

The way to approach this is to log your normal daily activities then sit down and take a look at what would happen if you lost all the services that make things work. It needs to be broken down to very basic parts of your routine like how do you flush a toilet with no mains water? Once you’ve done this you can find the alternatives – in that case it’s simply using stored rainwater.

It is actually quite disturbing to discover how dependant we are on technology because once things start to go wrong you will get a cascade effect. If you lose electric power a lot of other things go out with it. Central heating may be oil fired but it needs circulation pumps. None of our major supermarkets now carry huge stocks of food ‘just in case’ they need it, it’s all supplied from main depots on a ‘just in time’ basis so with no computers the whole stock control process grinds to halt. Few if any modern service stations have pumps with manual back-up like they did in my day so you end up with thousands of gallon of fuel nobody can access. In fact during any major emergency in the UK fuel supplies would be restricted anyway. If you can find things to buy how will you pay for them, credit cards aren’t much use if the machines aren’t working? You will probably also lose access to the emergency services so do you have back up plans to cope with that?

The reality is that while the media concentrate on violent high profile terrorism there’s a far greater threat developing. If hackers can get into areas like bank accounts, defence systems and even aircraft flight computers it’s only a matter of time before they try shutting down public utilities and other essential services.

Incidentally, I think the reason they now refer to themselves as ‘preppers’ is that ‘survivalists’ were given a bad image as gun-totting, marauders who would kill and pillage to get what they needed.


EDITOR: This article was in response to my Editorial published January 17 2016 “If the Internet was to shut down…..” at:


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