Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

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Morbidity inspired by mediocre novel about universal death

I have never been able to understand people who like the idea of really big kill everybody epidemics - that whole 28 Days Later thing of walking down the middle of Oxford St with newspapers blowing in the gutter and able to test the echo off Centre Point because there is not a sound except for the odd pigeon. I suppose it is partly that I am the sort of person who picks up any infection going, so am the person guaranteed to die in any plague, plus that most of the things I care about, including my capacity to survive, disappear when civilization does.

I am diabetic - not to the point where I need insulin, but that is a likely addition to my life in a few years, particularly if I were not able to get the pills I need to control it. Plus hormones, of course. And there is dentistry - rotten teeth can kill you, but not before they have made you wish you were dead. Then there are major health emergencies - when you have been rushed to hospital and saved by major surgery, you appreciate living in a civilized society. (This is not just a cheap shot at the US, of course, where you get your life saved, and in more comfortable surroundings, but are bankrupt ever after. I am talking about the end of the world as we know it, rather than just
bitching. Honest.)

There would be books, of course - but harder to read after dark and no records or videos because no electricity, and after a bit no batteries. No computers without power, and no internet without everyone else plugged into it. I would miss you all, really I would, even if I managed to link up with friends by trekking halfway across London on foot fighting off psychotics and zombies along the way. More likely, I would just sit in my flat and wait for the end; I am not a survivor type.

What prompts this is the superflu stories in the paper - major wars and major epidemics go together like bread and butter even before people start using CBW. Neither side of my family lost anyone in the 1919 flu epidemic, but this was unusual enough that people commented on it, even when I was growing up forty years later. The 1919 flu epidemic was one of the great die-offs of modern times - not as bad as the Chinese famine of the early fifties, but rather more universal. People just choked and died, sometimes in the street - it was bad enough that a lot of the time people scrub it from memory.

One of the reasons why bacteriological warfare is so very evil is that everyone dies of it - including the people who do it. One of the huge reliefs of my life was the realization that the die- off in the Americas was mostly not caused deliberately - the Spaniards just turned up with flu and measles and mumps and plague and smallpox and wherever they went, and plenty of places they did not, everyone just fell over and died. In a century of so, the Americas lost ninety per cent of their population and mostly it was not anything the Spanish did - not for want of trying - but what they could not help themselves doing just by breathing and being a bit sqalid.

It breaks my heart to think that the work people did eradicating small-pox is probably going to be undone by some general or some maniac and that it will sweep through the world again, and probably kill people I care about. I am probably safe still - I had a jab in my teens which is too long for certainty - but it scares me. Not a nice way to go for one thing, especially if someone has bought the wrong vaccines for stupid accounting reasons, as is possible knowing the Blair government...

On the bright side, Osama Bin Laden's niece Wafa is trying to have a pop career - and we think we have problems with our families.
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