I recently read an article* that stated that nearly half of families across the UK are no longer eating together at least once a day. Two thirds of families thought that TV was destroying the art of conversation and that children were more interested in playing computer games than sitting and eating with their parents. One in ten homes didn’t have a functional kitchen (whatever that means). 97% of respondents did think that eating together helped families to communicate and could strengthen relationships.
Now, I’d be the first to admit that if X-Boxes were invented when I was 10 years old, I would now be anorexic/obese, have no qualifications, no personal hygiene routine or be able to communicate with anything other than grunts and farts.
Also, I did eat at least one meal a day with my parents, who were both entertaining people; unfortunately, my dad would become a very animated speaker during mealtimes, which meant that food would very often be projected from his mouth across the dining table. Many a time one would take a pork chop particle in the eye or, worse still, in the middle of your plate of half consumed food.
So, now I have a family of my own, we do our best to eat at a dining table as often as possible, at least once a day, helping us to communicate with each other and without the distractions of TV or console games.
So, there you have it. A nice, smug, middle class family having an evening meal and communicating with each other. How perfect. Except that we always seem to gravitate towards the same topic of conversation at least once a week, and it’s not one that the government would expect or particularly condone. Zombies and zombie invasions.
I’ve always been partial to a good zombie film, not so much for the gore and blood and terror, but just for the whole logistics surrounding the unlikely occurrence of a zombie apocalypse. Dawn of The Dead, Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead – lots of films with ‘Dead’ in the title. Then there’s Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and Fido, all Zombie comedy films.
Like a loving father, I’ve passed my love for this genre of film onto my children, who are now aficionados in their own right and massive fans of the modern zombie film, in particular the fantastic American TV series ‘The Walking Dead.’
So, it’s not long after we’ve tucked into our roast beef/spaghetti/sausage and mash before Master Johnny starts the conversation. What would we do in the event of a zombie outbreak? Between the four of us (Lady Barton St Mary always pretends to show disdain, but it doesn’t take long for her to join in), we think of different strategies we would have to adopt in order to survive. However, information on zombies can be ambiguous, depending on which film/TV series you are relying on.
Firstly, we’ve decided it would be best to stay at Randall Towers. We’re on a hill and can see a ‘walker’ coming from a pretty good distance. Unless you’re in the kitchen garden, in which case you would need to make sure the gates were firmly shut and if possible monitored with CCTV. We are assuming that in the short term, electricity supplies would continue, but if not, a generator would have to be brought in. However, because a generator would create a lot of noise that would attract the undead (see ‘The Walking Dead’) this may not be the ideal solution.
Weapons. We have a good selection of spades, shovels, an axe, a 4lb hammer, 2 cricket bats and a leaf blower. Actually, forget the leaf blower, that would be crap. Therefore, we would probably need extra weapons, like crossbows and machetes, but few guns due to the noise again (see above).
Strategy. Master Johnny (veteran Nazi Zombie killer, Call Of Duty, XBox and PS3) has his eyes set on a good, solid 4×4, which we could probably pick up from one of the neighbouring farms, assuming our dear neighbours have been chomped by the non- living. Preferably with a bull bar for mowing down flesh eaters.
We could then drive to Steeley, the Tinkers’ friend and his wife She- La! who live in the next village. He would have an excellent supply of weaponry and nobody messes with She-La!
Next stop would be The Sexton and Pen. As a grave digger and ex-farmer, he would have experience of dealing with the dead, as well as being able to deliver a hefty blow with a shovel, sledgehammer, etc. Pen, with her social work experience, could try to counsel the poor unfortunate zombies whilst we sneak round the back and stove in their heads with a crowbar.
Evasion Miss Katherine is always curious about this one. Her theory is that, if you’re dead, it must be pretty hard to move quickly, so evading these poor unfortunate ex-people would be easy. Some of you may be quick to point out that this opinion is flawed and that zombies have been known to run (‘28 hours/days Later’) very fast. I tried that one too. Master Johnny was very quick to point out that in ‘28’, the victims are in fact suffering from a terrible virus and therefore are not technically zombies (also ‘I Am Legend.’)
Zombie Physiology. A favourite with Lady Barton St Mary. If they’re dead, their digestive system no longer functions. So why do they eat meat they can’t digest? A bit like eating McDonald’s, I suppose.
Also, she’s adamant it wouldn’t take long before the infrastructure of society would completely break down. Electricity, water supplies, food supplies would all stop. A bit like living in Tewkesbury in 2007. We would all end up drinking what was available, for example, cider, and only eating tinned or processed food. A bit like Gloucester, 2012.
I blame the accountancy training, myself.
Escape. This is always a contentious one. “Escape to where?
If there’s an outbreak here, we live on an island, so help would come. Alternatively, we could get to the coast and sail across the channel, or take a plane and fly to the continent.
Except we’d have to get to the coast and take a boat. I don’t think I could handle a cruise ship. I think The Sexton would give it a good go. Steeley, The Tinkers’ friend, would be hopeless, since he gets very seasick and is half Italian, and we all know what Italians are like as captains on cruise ships.
Also, we only know one airline pilot and he lives in Wiltshire, so it’s never safe to travel there even when there isn’t a zombie invasion. Our only hope would be Gerald, who lives near Bracknell. This means he lives in an area that simulates a zombie apocalypse and he is also really good on Microsoft Flight Simulator. Unfortunately, he only plays on the WWII Bomber version, which means we’d have to find a restored Lancaster and wouldn’t be able to land until he’d destroyed half of Berlin.
The dinner conversations continue. All I can say is, in the event of a zombie outbreak, we’ll be ready. Though I’m sure all families sit down to a meal together and discuss similar things. Or is it just us?