Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Survival Skills


My grandmother was not only an angel, but she was more than a little fey. She predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the South African apartheid state, nearly to the day. And she also told me this (I put it on its own line so that you can mull over its brilliance):

The monetary system as we know it will collapse in 2012.

You read it here first.

Reading the papers and listening to the news, you’d think it really is happening. And perhaps it is. But seeing I can’t do anything to stop it happening, and economic talk about quantitive easing and debt crises makes me glaze over like the inimitable Charlie Brooker:

I can feel my entire mind … Entering shutdown mode. Protecting itself from boredom by willfully slipping into a coma. My eyes remain open, I occasionally even grunt, but my inner being has wandered several thousand miles away. Sometimes I’m rudely awoken by a cold strand of drool dripping on to my collarbone. If, as I regain consciousness, their explanation is still going, I wipe my chin clean and go back to sleep.

… I started to think about my chances of survival. What skills do I have that might help if we wake up next year and find that money is gone?

Here is my paltry list:

1. I can use needle and thread. I could cobble together clothes out of sheets and blankets.

2. I make a great salad. If there’s no electricity, my baking skills will go out of the window, though. Also, I don’t grow stuff well, so I would have to learn to forage.

3. I can walk really really long distances without getting tired.

4. I could tell stories around the campfire.

5. I have a good network of friends. A tribe is a helpful thing.

6. I’m not afraid of hard work or boring repetitive tasks. I could work in someone’s veggie garden in exchange for radishes.

See I told you it was a bit pathetic. Turns out I need to learn some serious skills in the next few months – woodwork, perhaps? Or a little light butchery.

What skills do you have that would serve you well if things bottomed-up? What skills do you lack?

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

16 thoughts on “Survival Skills

  1. Oh heck – I’d be useless. I gave up growing veges I was so useless. I can scrump apples (next door has a great tree). I can knit – so could rustle up a cardi or two provided you didn’t need it in a hurry.

    But I can look after children. So not totally useless, then.

  2. Predictions of the apocolypse have a way of being postponed. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid were both events that the majority of the world was in favour of, and clearly inevitable. The end of our monetary system is too vague a concept and definitely not desired. There will always be a market for money. For example, if you hold dollars right now, the market is saying they’re not as worth as much as they used to be, but the market will only let a currency fall to a level that reflects the underlying strength of the economy behind it. Would a country start printing money on a level of Germany in 1923? Somehow I think we’ve learned a thing or two from the past, but maybe then again I’m just naive.

    Not saying this about your grandmother, but scratch beneath the surface of most predictions of monetary system collapse and you’ll find someone recommending you buy gold. But gold is just another store of money that has to be converted into something you need to buy milk.

  3. Lord, I hope Ian’s right. I don’t listen to the news because so much of it is sensationalised and the rest is depressing. I guess if the worst happens, I bundle us all into the college precincts, because the university will protect its own no matter what happens.I have no skills, by the way.

  4. I guess I’ll just have to roam the coutryside – sleeping in ditches and eating nuts and berries – and whenever I run across a group of people I’ll have to hope that they let me weave stories around their campfire in exchange for a little food – rather than killing me on the spot 😉

  5. A friend of mine’s family used to make a summer project out of this every summer. Not the whole summer, but continually throughout, they would forage for food and transport water and live by the light of the day… what good skills to develop.

    The only skills I think I have are the ability to make due with little and the ability not to complain. Going to have to figure out a way to extend my repertoire obviously if the monetary system takes a nose dive.

  6. I can cook over a campfire and have good stamina, so I could chop trees, carry water, dig holes. I’m also good at organizing people, so perhaps I could coordinate community efforts, such as raids on the next village!

    It does look pretty dire right now, but I hope your grandmother’s prediction won’t come to pass 😦

  7. The most important skill anyone has is the ability to love. When you think about that, when you surround yourself with the image of those you love and who love you, then you know what’s real. Money is just a symbol. We’re human–we use symbols all the time. Language is one. Symbols change and we’ll keep on using them because of their convenience. Reality–that’s love.

  8. I guess we’re better off than most city people, with our farm we’ve got fruit and veggies and firewood… but I’ve yet to butcher an animal and the snakes or eagles play havoc with any chickens we try to keep. If we get a move on with our plans for solar I may still be able to bake, as long as the Swartland farmers can keep growing wheat, For transport we’d have to rely on Youngest and get her a horse to train to pull a cart. I think I will become a herb-growing wise woman and hope I don’t get burnt at the stake this time round! Seems like I’ve already been thinking the scenario through, but I hope it doesn’t come down to it in the end! I need my internet connection!

  9. Well, I can grow veggies and we have a water butt. I know how to forage too. But really, this has to be happening now. If there is a crisis, we cannot just hop online and start ordering seeds.. I do also try and avoid food storage methods that require electricity. But yikes, even with what I do do, I feel woefully underprepared. My biggest worry would be the anarchy though, I have neighbours who lack manners in times of plenty..

  10. My skills: reading, storytelling. Probably won’t be much need for being able to create a project plan, or teach people how to use computer programs. But, I’m encouraged by Lillian’s comment. I can love. I CAN LOVE.

  11. According to my daughter’s laughter today, I could probably sing songs from the fifties and sixties with great aplomb. Also, people generally like being around me …I don’t know what that would serve. I am good in marketing brainstorming sessions. But if the monetary system truly collapsed, and it truly harkened an end of the world scenario, I am pretty sure I’d be destroyed with the first rush of folks, and that is ok.

  12. “The monetary system as we know it will collapse in 2012”
    Will Hutton is predicting the same, pretty much. Eek.
    I suspect I’m toast unless I can trade beginners guitar lessons for salt and make lists.

  13. I enjoyed browsing your website and found it suitable for one of my clients to advertise on it. The advert could be in the format of a short sentence with a link to my client’s website. In return I would be happy to compensate you for that.

    Thank you for your time

  14. Build a wood burning oven (a large one) and when the end of the world as we know it comes your baking skills will be preserved and in great demand. The oven will have wider uses you can barter for things. In Italian villages the baker’s oven would first do the bread, then people would bring their meat to roast as the heat subsided. Probably for a few Lira, or for some produce in exchange.

  15. Pingback: 2011 in First Lines « Charlotte's Web

  16. Yikes! I can hand sew, if I have to (not the quickest, but neat lines). I can cook just about anything. So I’d be in the kitchen. I can also garden, though I’m not sure flowers will be wanted, I’ll insist on growing some for beauty and to keep the bees and butterflies alive, so the trees and flowers stay alive. With them, we can survive. Without them, everything would fail and money wouldn’t matter at all.

    I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go to a barter system. I can read schematics too! lol and tell stories at night, to scare the kids 🙂 I’m going to think the current monetary system failing is a good thing, because it’s run by a bunch of rich people who could care less about the livelihoods of anyone else (and the earth), and that’s wrong. So we need a different system, a better system – that’s what I wonder, what will it be like? will it ease poverty?

Leave a Reply to emma c Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s