Hit & Run: The survivalist shopping list

Not Gene, though. Gene’s going to be fine. Gene works at a hedge fund in New
York and, made wary by the increasingly erratic behaviour of his colleagues
as the credit crunch has worn on, he is battening down the hatches. He’s
stacked his basement with canned food, bottled water, and a decent supply of
washable nappies for his baby. He’s fixing his car up so it’ll run off-road
– presumably, massed ranks of crazed bankrupts will have taken to the
motorways ? and he’s taking good care of his collection of guns.

Gene’s not saying a rabble of crazy stockbrokers is absolutely definitely
going to come round to his house and try to bludgeon him to death with his
own wind-up torch so they can get at his baked beans. He’s just saying, “I
don’t think it necessarily makes a guy crazy to prepare for the potential
worst-case scenario.” That’s why he plans to purchase an inflatable
speedboat. Everyone needs an escape plan.

Well, that’s just crazy Americans, right? But over here, the crunch is making
people a little bit tense, too. Consider Michelle Fitzsimmons, “a
businesswoman from near Cardiff”, who has planted a hazelnut tree in
her garden. “They are a low-maintenance, highly productive source of
protein that is much cheaper than meat,” she explains, and thus great
in a financial squeeze. Fitzsimmons is also considering the purchase of a
pig.

Porcine survivalism is likely to remain a niche interest, but there are signs
that the instinct to retreat is gaining a grip across society. Ask Russ
Reader, managing director of Leigh Safes, who reports a 25 per cent increase
in sales in just one month. Ask survivalist blogger and author of How to
Live Off-Grid Nick Rosen, who says that traffic to his website has increased
by 30 to 40 per cent, and predicts a surge in shed-building by those looking
to secure a mortgage-proof way of life.

Or take a leaf out of 56-year-old retired croupier David Somers’ book by
selling your house and sinking the lot into gold. That way, when the rest of
us are using sterling as toilet paper, you’ll be able to barter your ingots
for the occasional barrel of oil for the portable stove. If only Gordon
Brown had done the same.

So you’ve got your boat, your pig, your hazelnut tree, your home vault, your
off-road vehicle, your imperishable groceries, your gold bars, your illicit
weapons, and you’re living in a shed. Truly, this is post-consumer bliss.
One more piece of advice, though, from former Russian oligarch German
Sterligov, who gave up his New York penthouse and Burgundian castle in
favour of a log cabin a few years back, and who has hired a tutor to teach
his children hand-to-hand combat. It is, Sterligov says, “not just for
my oligarch friends but for everyone in this crisis ? buy flour and salt and
sugar. All of you. You will need them.” Archie Bland

Grease is the word

Remember the story about the LA plastic surgeon who was caught using the
post-op human fat to fuel his car? This is a more palatable tale on the same
theme. In 2004, another Californian, Marshall Dostall, had a notion to run
his Mercedes on glycerine extracted from leftover restaurant grease.
Somewhere along the way Dostall realised that this pizza-and-chips flavoured
glycerine could make a fine liquid hand soap, and now he’s begun selling the
fatty-yet-foamy potion ? scented not with fried onions but bergamot ? in
trendy LA boutique Fred Segal and through his site furthersoap.com. And it’s
all yours for the slightly less-than-tasty price of $18.50 a bottle. Susie
Rushton

Prawn to do it

Tonight’s FA Cup third-round replay between Southend United and Chelsea will
be one of the biggest days of 17-year-old Daniel Duncan’s life. You would be
forgiven for not having heard of this mild-mannered teenager. He is not,
say, one of the Blues’ recent multimillion-pound signings. Neither does he
play for the League One Essex boys. But the economics student will
nonetheless be on the pitch… dressed as a nine-foot shrimp.

A Southend fan for as long as he can remember, Daniel represents the third
generation of Duncans to take the guise of Sammy the Shrimp. He spends three
to four hours a week in costume, opening supermarkets and entertaining at
fetes. Facing the abuse of Chelsea fans is a relatively minor part of his
duties. Is abuse nonetheless an element of Duncan’s duties? “Oh, yeah,”
he says. Like what? “People try and pull my gloves off the whole time.”
And has he prepared a dazzling routine to wow tomorrow’s crowds at Roots
Hall? “Elvis the Eel and I will lark around quite a lot.” Elvis
the Eel? “He’s my sidekick.” This slippery customer, it turns out,
is played by Duncan’s 21-year-old brother, Andrew.

But despite the taunts it is undoubtedly an honour to represent the club.
Daniel’s father also wore the hallowed shrimp costume, and at his funeral,
the Manchester City mascot was there to pay his respects. As for the suit’s
current incumbent, the prestige is highly valued, but there are also perks.
Especially tonight. “Before the match, I’ll get to be in tunnel with
all of the big names,” Daniel explains. “And some of them will
even say hi as they run past.” Rob Sharp

Txt challenge 4 Billy no m8s

All hail the nimble fingers of Californian communications queen Reina
Hardesty, 13, who sends 14,528 text messages a month (about one every two
minutes) and who has consequently received a 440-page phone bill. In an
attempt to better her dexterity, I whipped out my mobile and flexed my
digits. In a 10-minute stretch I sent a not-too-shabby six messages. Then I
ran out of people to contact and things to say. And none of the six lucky
recipients replied before the time ran out. And that’s the real mystery of
Hardesty’s texts. How on earth did she think of so much to write about? Rebecca
Armstrong

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