Saturday 16 February 2008

What to do in the event of an atomic bomb

I’ve decided to keep an occasional series of posts under the label, Google Searches. People out there in internet land have a LOT of needs, and very often they confess all to Mother Google, in the form of a question, or a declaration of a problem, or something sought after. And sometimes, these searches send them in the way of Lucy Takes Off. I find out about them when I check my stats, and discover how people get here.

If you got spun out here today for the first time like a cow from the eye of a tornado, welcome to the pastures of Lucy Takes Off. If you’ve been hooked up to Lucy Takes Off for months like a bitch to a bag of crack, welcome. I can only hope that you find here a balm to soothe the worry from your brow, get a little kick to get you through the night. We do our best, here at Lucy Takes Off, and her sister site, Here Comes Lucy. Feel free to have a look around.

So this series starts here, with a question from Concerned from Portsmouth, whose issue with Google last night was “what to do in the event of an atomic bomb”. Naturally, Concerned was ushered at once into the safe waters of Lucy Takes Off. And the post he was directed to was this one from December of last year, but we’re an audience friendly kind of shindig around here, so I’d like to address his question more fully, directly.

Well, the first thing that I would imagine I would do if I saw a mushroom cloud in the sky, would be to be very surprised. You just don’t hear about atomic bombs anymore. They’ve just lost their popularity. Sure, there was some attempted resurgence in the last few years, but that all came to nothing more than accusations and threats and bombs dropped on countries who wouldn't play "bomb back".

What with the bubble skirts and big hair and loud patterns of the eighties coming back around recently, there’s been a fondness for all things of that era, and nuclear fright was all the rage back then too. So my best guess for that initial response, is that most people would be looking in the sky uttering variable involuntary invocations on the “what the fuck” theme, and if you’re in a car you might find yourself in a crash-type situation, so I would advise wearing a seat belt at all times, or if you’re a cyclist, a sturdy helmet. But I think you’ll manage that shock response all on your own.

The next thing to do would again be instinctual. Reach for your camera, your mobile phone, your mac with photo booth, and take a picture.

A few years ago in Ireland, there was some frenzy about what we would actually do about fall out, if it were ever to happen. I think it started on the Joe Duffy show, where many good national scares start, and we collectively realised that actually nobody had been talking much about nuclear bombs anymore and none of us knew what we’d do. So the minister who was supposed to know all about this stuff turned out not to know anything much about it at all but somebody whispered in his ear that they had heard a rumour on the internet that it would be a good idea to drop iodine tablets into drinking water, and that that would neutralise all the radiation in the fallout, and everything would be groovy. So everybody in Ireland who was registered to vote got sent a little package of iodine tablets. I don't think anyone wrote a song about that phenomenon, the iodine tablets and our salvation. Missed moment.

I read a lovely graphic novel when I was small. It was called “When the Wind Blows”, a story of two old people who had been young in London during world war two and how they tried to cope with a nuclear disaster in the same way as they did back then, which of course didn’t work out too well for them at all. But it’s a pretty gorgeous book, if you ever happen to come across it. You’ll probably have it read in a couple of hours, and it’s a good illustration of what happens when people try their best to apply what they’ve been told they should do in the event of a nuclear war to the reality of it.

So, Concerned, I hope this helps to round out your checklist and sense of preparedness for what to do In The Event Of A Bomb. Good luck. I hope you never have to pop those iodine tablets (available widely throughout Ireland in 2003 or perhaps in a chemist shop near you).

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