The End Of The World
Week 3

James Leavey's

WEEK THREE

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By James Leavey

Several years ago I read an article about a man who went potholing in New York State, during the course of which he dropped his hammer down a hole – and never heard it land. He went on to claim that NYC is standing on a huge geological fault which one day, no doubt the result of a huge earthquake, will swallow the Big Apple whole and spit out the pipsqueaks.

Not long after, I read H.P. Lovecraft’s novel, At the Mountains of Madness, in which a ‘scientific’ expedition to Antarctica discovers a range of mountains taller than the Himalayas, behind which are the cyclopean ruins of a deserted city built by an alien race 500,000 years ago. It sounded a lot like the Bronx.

It seemed fitting to me that a city like New York, which embodies all the best and worst that mankind can aspire to, should be suddenly plunged into the bowels of the Earth, and then re-emerge after eons, perhaps when McDonalds no longer inhabit this planet.

So what would future visitors think, looking at all those weathered empty skyscrapers, diners and crack houses"

Sad bastards, is a phrase that comes to mind.

Then there was that fad, encouraged by the BBC TV children’s programme, Blue Peter, to leave a time capsule for future generations. I remember as a young child placing some marbles, a toy soldier, a wild Woodbine, and a short note in an otherwise empty cigarette box, and burying it in my garden.

What I didn’t know then but alas know now is that there is the possibility, at least according to the BBC TV series, ‘Space, our final frontier’, that everything we know and nurture may someday be ingested by a roaming Black Hole, rather like a plateful of fries gobbled by an overweight Californian who has decided to nip across America for the chance of a puritan-free smoke.

Meanwhile, according to the BBC, it seems that not only is the Earth under constant threat from meteorites and stray asteroids, but the whole of our solar system is spinning round our galaxy, just looking for trouble.

So much for the time capsules.

In fact, watching that BBC series closely, the Beloved Wife and I decided to do away with ourselves: as a suicide in the bush is better than two comets out of the sky. But we’ve decided against it, for the time being, on the grounds that it would upset our cat (we’d have to take her with us) and bloodstains are difficult to remove from TV remote controls.

It seems to me that the only hope mankind has for its long-term survival, and it’s pretty remote at present, is the new Star Wars system supported by President Bush. The trouble is, it’s rather like that Doomsday device which acts as the McGuffin in Stanley Kubrick’s film, Dr Strangelove, or How to I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. What a pity that America’s 21st century Doomsday machine will be pointing at targets on the Earth, and not towards the real menace from outer space. Maybe its first target should be the White House sometime over the next year or so, as that will save us a lot of grief.

On that cheerful note, I shall ignite a Montecristo No.2 and pour myself another large slug of Oban whisky. I’ve promised the Wife not to watch re-runs of the BBC series that depressed us so much, although we’ll probably end up watching the ‘Aliens are among us’ series on Discovery Channel, for a laugh. Tomorrow I’m going back to South London to dig up that box and replace my note with something more appropriate, "You don’t know me, and now you probably never will".

As for the chances of my making it to the next column, I don’t want to think about it…


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