Tag Archives: Humour

Does Your Local Council Care About Zombies?

Last Friday, the 10th of June, 2011, Leicester City Council revealed that they’d had a request from a concerned citizen to explain their plans for a zombie invasion under the Freedom Of Information laws. Councillor Lynn Wyeth appeared on a local radio station to discuss the issue, amongst others, and revealed that “if it’s specifically about zombies then I would say, from my recollection of the plan… then unfortunately there’s nothing in there… saying how we would respond to zombies“. She postulated that elements of other emergency protocols could be implemented to create a sort of jury-rigged response but that, as the situation stood, there was no explicit code-of-conduct for dealing with the risen dead.

Ms. Wyeth then spoke about the necessity of responding to all questions delivered to the council under the Freedom of Information act, and stated “To you it might seem frivolous and a waste of time… but to different people it actually means something…“.

Well, Ms Wyeth, I completely agree with you there, which is precisely why I am both shocked and horrified at the blasé attitude you have concerning this very real danger.

As we all know from watching documentaries such as ‘Shaun Of The Dead‘ and ‘Zombieland‘, the world can go from normal Thursday afternoon to complete and utter shit-storm in a matter of hours when it comes to ravenous hordes of the risen dead walking the earth, lusting for human flesh. This is mostly due to the fact that there are zombies EVERYWHERE, but local councils must accept that they are, in part, at fault and – were the majority of their electoral role not either eating their own spouse or vice-versa – some pretty forceful complaints would be lodged due to their failure to deal with the problem.

Zombie apocalypse scenarios tend to address survival on an individual basis, the government having collapsed into chaos shortly after the first wave of perambulatory corpses tore apart every single civil servant. Very rarely does any form of civilized ruling body survive the transition from pre-Z-Day to post-Z-Day and whilst this is for a number of reasons, a lack of accountability on the part of devolved organisations is first and foremost.

Let us quickly consider a zombie outbreak. Whether it begins at one single localised point or simultaneously at random points throughout the globe, it is always with a very small number of zombies. After all, one has the dead before one has the undead, and I doubt there are a particularly high concentration of fresh bodies anywhere in the British Isles. Let’s say, then, my hometown could suddenly spawn 80-150 zombies. The creatures would shamble their way about town looking for people to bite, swelling their ranks until they were unstoppable. Even only 10,000 of the undead is a force capable of bringing about the end of the world as we know it.

However, during this invasion, think about how many CCTV cameras the zombies will have passed? How many people will have reported walking corpses? Regardless of the time of day, there are always people awake except in the sleepiest of villages. A local council would have to actively try not to notice the arrival of Z-Day more than about thirty minutes after it had occurred, and likely making them the first governmental organisation capable of dealing with their own outbreak at a grassroots level. A failure to do this will result in them being single-handedly responsible for apocalypse.

So how should local councils prepare for a zombie invasion? Whilst I am not anywhere as close to a zombie authority as Max Brooks (and if you haven’t read ‘The Zombie Survival Guide‘ then you’re going to be at a serious disadvantage when they arrive), I have taken a bash at outlining a couple of possible measures below.

1. Educate Your Voters

The first people to die in a zombie apocalypse are the ones that don’t believe it’s happening, or who can’t recognise the signs of infection, or the ones who fail to barricade all the entry points into their house. An educational leaflet circulated around all the homes covered by your council will help to prevent unnecessary maulings and, if citizens are provided with a questionnaire to evaluate their usefulness and likelihood of survival in a Z-Day scenario, might even allow you to create something of a voluntary militia to be the front-line of zombie defence from the stronger candidates and ensure the slow and stupid – or ‘should-have-seen-that-coming’ victims of infection – are kept in some kind of corral for their own safety.

2. Provide A Helpline

Although to be fair, I'm not sure if she scares me more than the zombies or not...

Whilst it is distinctly likely phone lines and other methods of communication will go down shortly after the beginning of the End, the hours before this will be crucial in providing as much information to your constituency as possible. The location of the nearest safe-house, details of where the zombie hordes have been most recently spotted and reassurance that actions are being taken to deal with the problem are all things any concerned citizen would be grateful for in this context. Perhaps even an online map of the area colour-coded into ‘safe’ and ‘infected’ zones, or an iPhone app telling you how close you were to a ravenous zombie, would be investments in zombie-survival protocol.

3. Properly Outfit Your Police Force

Whilst in the United Kingdom we have a much more stringent approach to gun control laws than the trigger-happy USA, saving countless lives every year, this will in fact be a disadvantage when it comes to Z-Day. With this in mind, each local police station should be outfitted with a ‘zombie emergency locker’ containing a number of small firearms and a couple of long-range rifles, with ammunition. This should, of course, only be opened in the event of walking dead, and it should be emphasised that the guns are a last resort. A little known fact is that many zombies will in fact respond to the sound of gunfire and follow it to the source, making a gun very dangerous for the person firing it. With this in mind, your police force should be trained in basic hand-to-hand combat, possibly with machetes or some similar implement designed for crushing the brain case of a zombie.

4. Creating A Safehouse

Whilst there are major disadvantages to large numbers of people in a closed space in this scenario, the fact remains that it’s important to have some kind of rallying point for survivors, as well as somewhere to stay safe. Luckily enough, governmental buildings such as hospitals, schools, and town halls are often easily fortifiable, even as a last-minute emergency measure. Churches, banks and larger Victorian Era houses are also good bets. Ideally these will have been chosen pre-Z-Day and fortified somewhat already but, failing that, it is fairly easy to barricade doors and windows sufficiently to ensure a day or two of survival for the occupants at least. The important thing is being sure that EVERY ENTRANCE IS COVERED; countless people have lost their lives during zombie outbreaks simply because someone missed checking the back door was locked (see: Shaun Of The Dead).

5. Checking Survivors

Whilst it may seem like an unnecessary, sometimes even inhuman, concern to many people, checking the survivors for signs of bites and scratches is vital; one infected person in a room of fifty will almost invariably result in a room of fifty zombies (see: Dawn Of The Dead). Providing on-call counsellors in safe-houses for imminently bereaved families will help the process occur smoothly, and employing a trained ‘projectile ingress agent’ to dispatch the dying person can ensure the passing is as dignified as possible.

6. Ring Milla Jovovich

The best bit is when she gets cloned and there's an Alice for everyo- I MEAN THE SHOOTING OR SOMETHING

Ms. Jovovich is, as demonstrated in her training DVDs, very adept at dispatching large amounts of zombies in short spaces of time whilst clad in the best use of red silk I think I’ve ever seen. Once the local populace has been safely gathered in the safe-houses, Ms. Jovovich should immediately be notified of the situation so she can sort it out. After getting rid of all the zombies she could hang around, maybe sign a few copies of Resident Evil, and if she’s hungry I could take her to dinner. Or something.

ANYWAY as demonstrated, a basic zombie outbreak plan is fairly easy and cost-effective to implement, and certainly something local councils should be considering, especially so as to put the growing number of concerned residents’ minds to rest. Any local councils who wish to do so may contact me here for a more in-depth and personalised consultation for a nominal fee and, when you think about how many residents you’d be saving from a truly unpleasant undeath, isn’t it worth it?

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‘My Job Is To Be A Conduit To The Public…’

Is it possible to write a letter for a job application that sounds like you? Not ‘who you want to be’ or ‘who you worry you are’, but actually bare bones basic take-’em-as-they-come you? I’ve been struggling with mine enormously over the last three or four months and I’m starting to conclude that it isn’t.

I will be graduating from Cardiff University in about two months and so am starting to think about work. A fifteen minute chat with the careers adviser and countless leaflets, handouts and pamphlets concluded that, seeing as my degree is effectively ‘professional chatting’, I’d probably be most suited to PR, advertising, journalism – ‘The Media’ is the umbrella you can simplistically group those under. ‘Sounds good’, I said to the lovely lady who seemed to be very optimistic about the amount of open positions in this industry, ‘so what, I just send people my details and I get the job, then?’

Apparently not, she said. In The Media, 85-90% of the jobs aren’t advertised; people get positions through ‘a friend of a friend of a friend’. Nepotism is the name of the game, and you can’t play it unless you’re in our gang. Once you’re in and you’ve made the right contacts, you’ll never go hungry, but until that point it’s somewhat like beating your head against a brick wall whilst being very very poor. Not a great way to spend your time.

In a conversation with my mother later on in the day I bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to find a good job and would have to start pushing drugs and giving tramps blow-jobs for money. Although I’d been intending this as encouragement for her to tell me that she’d send me more money, my mother replied with ‘I have a friend who might be able to get you an internship…’. I was seeing the nepotism of The Media unfolding in front of my eyes, and it was benefiting me. I asked a couple of questions and found out it would be for a local literature festival, meaning I could live in a nice place rent-free whilst earning experience in advertising and public relations doing a job which would have the side effect of allowing me to read a fairly wide range of popular modern writing. The only downside would be living with my parents again which, although it’s a pretty substantial downside, is able to be coped with.

I was counting my lucky stars when Mother Dearest said ‘all you’ll have to do is send in a CV and cover letter, do you have one ready?’
‘Course I do.’
She sighed, heavily. ‘Not the one you use for getting bar jobs; one that can be used for REAL work.’
I chose not to start the argument about bar work ‘not being a real job have you any idea how difficult it is stop shouting at me I’M NOT SHOUTING’ again and promised I’d show my CV to her later. After taking a look, she suggested some revisions and a couple of things I’d left off, but said it was acceptable. All I needed to do now was write the cover letter about why I really wanted the job.

I’m a man who has written 2,000 word essays in the three hours between 2AM and 5AM fueled entirely by cans of Monster and still managed to get 2.1s for them. A cover letter? CAKEWALK.

Five hours later I held my head in my hands as I stared at the two-hundred or so platitudes on the screen in front of me, considering whether the correct form for these situations was to cry, or break something.

It’s very difficult to write about myself, I’ve found, in a way that manages to make me sound like a typical human being. I tend to vascillate hugely from ‘I’m a worthless human being who isn’t worth the mud on your shoes – I’ll be so grateful if you give me this job that you’ll never need toilet roll again because I’ll be licking your arse so much’ to ‘I am the second-born Son Of God and it’s a travesty I don’t already have this job’. There is no middle ground. I’m either the best thing since sliced bread or I’m an awful failure, and I don’t really like saying either of these, because I don’t believe either one.

I’m not hugely neurotic – people telling me I’m fugly isn’t going to send me into a spiral of self-doubt and paranoia – and I wouldn’t consider myself an arrogant person either. I find arrogance an enormously unattractive quality in people and I really hate hypocrisy, so I try not to practice the one to avoid the other. Unfortunately, CV writing doesn’t lend itself enormously to sending the message ‘I’m an alright person’; one is expected to big oneself up as hard as possible, lying, cheating and bartering in order to get an edge over other candidates for the job, especially in this job market. Every man for himself, women and children to the back of the line, etc etc. Some people seem able to do that completely happily, but not me. If I write something good about myself, my brain panics. I start wondering whether that makes me sound like an arse, and if it does, will that lose me the job? No-one wants to hire a cocky prick! So I’ll mitigate the good statement with a bit of self-effacement, to take the edge off it and show I’m a reasonable person.

But then, who’ll hire an nervous failure? So I write something about how I’m great at team-management, then something about not working hard enough at uni, then something about how I’ve never met a customer I couldn’t woo, then how my need to constantly please people eventually leads me to inevitably fail them and myself, then how I’d be the perfect person who’d fulfil the job role described brilliantly, before finishing with my ever-present paranoia that I’m never going to leave anything tangible behind me when I die. It is a deeply deeply vicious cycle. Finally, after two pages of this spiralling out of control, I’ll delete EVERYTHING apart from ‘I’m very interested in working in a customer-based environment’ (because let’s face it, that covers almost every job ever in some respect or another) and decide that I need a drink, and that bleach is looking particularly refreshing right then.

Does it get any easier? I’m hoping so; that once the first job has been got my CV will magically become a honed tool expressly for impressing big business men who will throw positions at my feet, and I shall pick and choose any employment I want. I do occasionally revisit the real world though, and I’m very aware that’s not how it works. Every time I want to apply for anything, be it the Head of the U.N. or the man who picks the dodgy gristly bits of cow they use in fast-food burger vans off the floor of the abattoir, I’m going to have to update my CV to make it more ‘targeted’ – to emphasise my previous experience in a way that makes me sound suitable for the work I’m going for. It’s all about self-presentation, and I either have to get a lot better at that, or I have to swallow my pride and start swallowing a whole bunch of other things. I hear drug-running’s pretty lucrative…at least I’ll get to see exotic places and get threatened in a variety of foreign languages. And those airport security full cavity searches look like they could be a lot of fun!