A column about surviving disasters

Residents and workers of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore has spoken, so it’s time to prepare your Go Bags! Have a backpack ready at all times, with water, sneakers, spare keys, a radio, toilet paper, and, most bizarrely, a notepad and pen in case you want to do a quick sketch of the disaster as it unfolds.

Do it today, so that when we’re living in a horrifying, post-Apocalyptic world, you won’t be able to say that we at The Glebe didn’t warn you.

Apologies to those readers who don’t spend part of their day in the Sydney CBD, but unfortunately you don’t live in the main terrorist target area, so you miss out on all the excitement. But also the possibility of death. So, not a bad trade-off, really.

I don’t mean to heap too much scorn on the City of Sydney’s “Let’s Get Ready, Sydney” campaign (check out the relaxing bright orange website at www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/getreadysydney), even though it sounds more like an attempt to get the people of this fair city out on the dancefloor than ready for a large-scale disaster. Move it, Sydney, get busy! Wave your hands in the air! No, like you’re dancing, not like you’re panicking.

But really, it’s sensible advice to be ready for a terror attack. After all, our partners in the Coalition of the Willing have endured them (but don’t worry, John Howard, we know you don’t think Iraq made us more of a terrorist target), and when it happens here, the Go Bags will probably be fairly helpful. They’ll certainly be of more use than a fridge magnet.

Speaking of which, even though the Federal Government helped to fund the campaign, I disagree with those who’ve called it another cynical piece of Liberal scaremongering, designed to sow fear ahead of this year’s election – and not just because the Coalition has little credibility left on these issues. The fact is that even a Tampa-sized information sheet couldn’t unseat Labor’s Tanya Plibersek in the safe seat of Sydney.

Sorry, I’ll just wait while you go and pack yourself a Go Bag, it mustn’t wait a moment longer. I know you want to finish the rest of the column, but don’t worry – it’ll be a reward once you’ve placed some cash and credit cards into the bag, as the Council advises. Yes, right where a burglar can easily find them.

Welcome back. But I hope you haven’t put the bag away yet, because there are few extra things you’ll want to add. I think that if I was gazing on the rubble-filled ruins of my beloved city, a hip flask would come in handy. Prophylactics would also be useful – I remember reading that in the aftermath of 9/11, casual “disaster sex” was rife as people wrestled with their own mortality, and it’s best to be prepared. If you survive a terrorist attack, the last thing you need to do is fall victim to some disease instead.

The Green Deputy Lord Mayor Chris Harris responded to Moore’s brochure with some flippant suggestions, including a copy of the Good Food Guide. But that’s actually a good idea. We Sydneysiders are serious about our food, and if I was starving after hiding underground for days while the radiation dissipated, the last thing I’d want to do when I emerged is eat at a restaurant with only one hat.

In case that the attack is severe, you should pack some back issues of The Glebe, so that previous instalments of this column can form the primary text upon which a new civilization is built. Feel free to erect monuments in my honour to provide hope to the shattered survivors. And when you painstakingly carve statues of me with a pocket knife (oh yeah, pack one of those as well), please bear in mind that I’m much more handsome than the caricature.

Thanks to the City of Sydney’s helpful information, I will sleep a little safer using my Go Bag as a pillow. Thanks, Clover. And you know, I’d have taken her advice even more seriously if, at the time of launching the campaign, she’d actually bothered to make one for herself.