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Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden

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Preppers now in the UK?


(I don't really store tins upside down :) I'm just rubbish at technology.

I’ve been aware of the preppers movement in the States for some time – sorry, I should be clear – preppers are those people who do some extraordinary planning for survival in the event of war or catastrophe- but I came across a website indicating that the idea has travelled over to the UK. http://www.ukpreppersguide.co.uk/

The world is in a chaotic state right now and looks set to continue. It’s the uncertainty that’s the most troublesome and I agree that we need to be thinking a bit ahead as to what we would do in the event of some disaster. Many people I talk to say there’s a sense of impending doom in the air and I have to admit when I did my grocery shopping this weekend I noticed that some of the shelves stocking the super- size quantities of oil, pasta, rice and similar were almost empty. I have to be careful not to get sucked into the conspiracy theories that are running amok on the internet.

Financial Collapse coming 2016,  War coming 2016, Major earthquakes and floods 2016. Don’t watch the YouTube End Times stuff late at night if you want a peaceful sleep.

My neighbours were talking about making preparations to ‘run for the hills’ if anything major happens. I reminded them that we already live in the hills. An article dated August 21st popped into my inbox yesterday saying that the German government urges citizens to stockpile food and water in case of attack or catastrophe. Hmm, what do they know that we don’t?

Some companies are making a mint out of selling survivalist equipment with Bug Out Bags ( fully equipped for a 72 hour survival) coming out at ridiculous prices. It’s worrying when long prepper lists include guns and ammunition so you can fight off anyone who tries to raid your food and water stores. I’d be more inclined to want to share what I’d got but then call me naïve.

Thinking about how prepared I am if disaster struck today, I popped my head into my well stocked pantry and thought, OK, we could survive for the ten days the German government is giving as a timeline. That’s not because I’ve been prepping but because I run my household the way my mother and grandmothers did. Always prepared, usually for family descending without notice.  We’ve got plenty of wood, calor gas bottles (that’s because my other half throws nothing away- jerry cans and probably a load of stuff left over from the war thanks to his parents. We grow food (well, tomatoes at least) and I always keep sterilising tablets in and a good first aid kit because I travel overseas a lot. We don’t have gas masks nor do we intend getting them. Come on, there has to be some limit.

Unlike some, I don’t think preppers are paranoid nutters. I think, like most of us, they are afraid of the unknown. We can see what’s happening around the world and unlike the times before globalisation, know that we are connected to what’s going on in some way.

I’ve always been independent and haven’t bought into marketing hype and spin. It was the way I was brought up and call me old-fashioned but it seems I’m ahead of this prepping malarkey by default.

For what it’s worth, here are a five tips you might want to take on board in case Armageddon really in round the corner this time. (or will they move the date again?)’

  1. Pay down debt. Build up reserves. The banks are in a mess with no head room this time.
  2. Keep some food reserves with a long shelf life.
  3. Think about alternative sources of cooking.
  4. Maintain a supply of tools for repairs. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit.
  5. Invest in your health.

I do this anyway, impending disaster or not. It’s common sense. Anyway, for those people who are preparing for nuclear war, I say don’t bother. Spend your excess time being kind and loving to your family, friends and neighbours right now. Surviving nuclear war without the sunshine or your loved ones? Well, only you can decide if it’s worth it. I won’t be even trying.


A new respect for water

I’ve been a tea addict for the past forty years but recently I’ve had to cut back to one cup a day and replace others with non-caffeinated varieties. I’ve tried to acquire a taste for green, camomile, dandelion and even liquorice teas but they don’t provide me with the satisfaction of a strong brew of English breakfast. After a few sips I pour the rest down the sink.

It was during one of these ‘this is disgusting’ occasions, that I recoiled in horror at what I’d done. Poured away perfectly good water, albeit flavoured, without giving two thoughts to what it means to have permanent access to clean, safe, running water on demand. I bet I’m not alone.

We’ve been having some unexpected hot weather here in Malvern and after tramping through the hills one day, armed with a bottle of water filled from one of 130 springs and wells,  I sat down to take a deep slug and catch my breath. Despite warnings of it tasting like rusty pipes or containing pathogenic bacteria, it was so pure it tasted of nothing at all.

Many famous people came to Malvern in the past to ‘take the waters’ including Charles Darwin who brought his daughter to seek a cure for her illness. I understand the Queen drinks it and people come from miles to fill their bottles from the springs that flow out of the hillsides.

That day, I found a new appreciation and respect for something we take for granted, especially in Malvern where we can access non-mains drinking water when we are out and about.

If you think about how much water we all use in the day; showers, flushing the lavatory, cleaning teeth, hosing the car, watering the garden, it’s important to assess how much we waste and what we can do to conserve it.

I use recycle rainwater, collected in a water butt, on my plants, turn off the tap when cleaning my teeth, wash fruit and vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap and am about to put a water-saving device in the toilet system. These are small measures, some might say insignificant, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Water is a precious resource and we are fortunate not to have to worry about having to collect it from puddles and dirty streams riddled with life-destroying bacteria which kills 5,000 children a day in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s hard to relate to unless we’ve seen it with our own eyes. We can watch the heart-wrenching adverts on TV but still do nothing to donate a few pounds to charities who work hard to bring safe water to desperate communities.

With water projected to be the next resource we fight over, we need to stop taking it for granted in the developed world and be more conscious about how we use it.  It might be us one day affected by a serious water shortage. I know what it’s like when my other half has to turn the water off so he can do some repair plumbing!

It's said  need two litres of water a day to keep hydrated, whether than comes from food or drinks. I think our bodies tell us when we need to top up. Since I discovered that tea was affecting my iron levels and making me dehydrated, I’ve turned to pure, unadulterated water as my refreshment of choice and consider myself to be very fortunate.  


Mental distress is real


With so many lone attacks being accredited to people with alleged mental health problems, I’m questioning why so many people refuse to believe it, insisting every time that such atrocities are terrorist related. Surely it’s down to mental health professionals to make a judgement about someone’s state of mind. It seems some people don’t like facts if they don’t fit in with their prejudices or what they feel they need to believe for their own safety and sanity. Unable to accept the truth, because it’s too distressing, is called denial.

I’m pondering on this today because, as someone with diagnosed post- traumatic stress disorder which throws up symptoms of anxiety and depression amongst others I don’t want to get into, I’ve had the most outrageous accusations levelled at me; ‘ Only war veterans get that, you use it as an excuse not to do something, your therapist must have been rubbish if you’re still suffering.’

One in four people at least will suffer from some kind of mental distress during their lives and this is on the increase. It is only when we have personal experience either ourselves or someone close can we begin to believe that this thing we call depression is a real illness. Imagine someone pressing their foot heavily on your head – de-pressing. That’s how it feels to me. Physical as well as mental pain. A kind of paralysis which if I don’t get moving doing something, anything, can tie me to the sofa for up to two weeks before it passes.

The thing is this: too many of my family and friends want to fix the problem. They can’t. Only I can do that. Writing, craft work and singing are my best supports at that time but to be told I need to get out more and stop the introspection isn’t helpful. It frustrates all of us. This is the time to be talking about the weather, or the price of fish… something banal. My dentist is good at this when it’s injection time or even worse, impressions. Yuk. She chats away with her dental nurse about something and nothing and it’s distracting in a good way.

My work involves helping people to handle uncomfortable emotions and anxiety but it’s a case of the cobbler’s shoes. You can do it for others but not yourself. I’m encouraged by the number of people who say they didn’t expect me to fix it or them but just to listen, validate, don’t interrupt or indicate there’s something wrong with them.  

Depression has been called the affliction of the strong. Most of us fight hard to get through those treacly days where nothing is achieved and the thought of crawling under the duvet a darkened room is the one thing to look forward to.

Unless I tell somebody I’m having a bad day, which I don’t – my excuse is I think I must be coming down with something – no-one would know because I put on a performance and hide behind the mask.

I understand the frustration of people who don’t want to hear that another lone attacker has got mental health problems because it’s not tangible enough when we are trying to find motive and meaning. But it might just be true.


In Men Feelings Run Deep

A recent radio programme featuring the loss of the steel plants in Teeside and the resultant redundancies brought home how badly men, in particula, are affected by redundancy and the hopelessness of trying to find new work once they reach fifty plus.

A moving story from a wife whose husband fell into a deep depression, triggering an increase in drinking and smoking and a steep decline in his health, took me back to a time when my first husband lost his business. Pulling up the walls of denial, he continued to go to his empty office and sit amongst the detritus of unpaid bills, lost orders and computers thick with dust, he became a phantom figure in the block of offices.

When he came home at the end of his so-called working day, he was angry and abusive and talked about a conspiracy to destroy him. Realising that his depression had taken on a new dimension, I tried to get him to seek medical help. The problem with paranoia, once it gets a hold, is that anybody who wants to help, doctors included, become co-conspirators in the plot. This went on for years. Money was tight as the family relied on my income and secret debts were uncovered yet he continued to deny and blame and rage. I didn’t want to divorce him – who walks away from someone in desperate need? – but I had to save myself and the children.

It’s a myth to think men don’t feel the pain and grief of loss whether it’s from the death of a parent, child or employment. Women are lucky to have empathy and sympathy from a wide circle of friends and we can talk about it… endlessly if necessary. We can openly cry, scream, rage and down copious amounts of wine in the safety of our networks because maybe we don’t feel the same need to be visibly resilient.  

Men who can find a healthy release from their grief have the chance to recover more quickly and find a new path but the silent majority suffer in silence and it can kill them.

My ex-husband returned to his family who in turn turned their verbal daggers against me. ‘This wouldn’t have happened if you’d been a proper wife,’ was the regular assault in the early days yet they’d failed to tell me he’d suffered bouts of depression in the past. Sadly he didn’t pick himself up enough to create a new life. Stories of men turning their faces to the wall in shame or self-hatred after losing a job or a business are not uncommon and I’ve seen some die well before their time because of little support and limited external services to help them cope.

Not everyone can take their redundancy payoff and set up a business so they can say, ‘Redundancy was the best thing that happened to me,’ as they celebrate making their first big sale. If you only know about steel or coal mining then it’s unrealistic you can suddenly turn your hand to bar work or cake-making. Some do, of course, but on vastly reduced wages and hours and against fierce competition from younger workers.

We need to increase the mental health support for anyone who finds themselves unemployed and that should include help for their desperate families. Depression can manifest in abuse and who knows how far that can go?

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