Not that I'm wanting to appear paranoid or anything and not that I'd consider giving any doomsday Christian fundamentalists any oxygen but…is that the gentle buzz of the last of the summer cicadas out there… or a hoard of marauding winged pestilence about to take flight and eat small children on their way home from school? O.K. So I'm a little paranoid. And beginning to regret all that finger pointing and disrespectful chortling I've done over the years at the various groups of people who've gathered together and gone up a mountain/ into a cave and waited for their personal Jesus or alien being to show up while everything they hated about the world finally blew itself up or got eaten by insects. This would last for a few days until everyone got bored and realised that they had to go back to work and that the pile of washing they'd gladly exchanged for a day of rapture or at the very least; a break in the routine – was still there waiting for them when they got home. This phenomenon is common enough for there to be a Simpson's episode where Homer declares the end of the world and everyone in Springfield follows him up the mountain, where, only Marge remains unimpressed by him or his dodgy insights.

I bought into the end of the world thing once – I'd just read Orwell's 1984, in 1984, and a rumour went round that the world would end the following Tuesday. The logic defies me now but we were 14 and everything made sense. Deep. Meaningful. Sense. Why God might reveal divine insights as to the 'End of Everything' to a bunch of 4th formers is testimony only to our utter self-absorption and stupidity but there you have it. I was quite happy for the world to end as I had not completed any of my assignments that week and later found that the nuns had little tolerance for 'the end of the world' as an excuse for not having done so.

Since then I've thought that most 'the end is nigh' thinkers were just giving a big 'the dog ate my homework' card to the whole of their life and saw nothing intrinsically wrong with that except, that life and all its problems would still be there when they'd gotten over metaphorically spitting the dummy at it. Following the crazy weather and geological events we've had over the last 6 months however, and watching the brain-warping devastation that has been unleashed on Japan – I might have to revise my policy of general scoffing at everything doomsday. If some extra terrestrial beings on horseback show up I'll be the first to ask for a ride out of here. Especially if they're good looking, dress like gauchos and don't talk too much. Mmmm. My favourite kind of end days' cowboy. Seriously though, I've had different friends ringing from round the world to chat, half jokingly about Mayan calendars, Mr. Ring, horsemen and locusts and the appalling spectre of Rodney Hide appearing in yellow lycra to the masses to show he has resurrected himself politically as a sign that we are indeed all truly doomed. O.K. I might have made the last one up – but it doesn't detract from the fact that we're all a bit antsy right now and in need of a psychological cup of tea and a chat rather than hours of horror TV coverage and talk of unsettling predictions of further general mayhem.

So if anyone out there wants to take advantage of these challenging times by offering him or herself in guru-like fashion complete with absolutist answers to everything I'll happily turn my brain off and follow the mythic mind of old, cheerily into the gloom or up the mountain. As long as they come bearing a few bottles of decent plonk and some pretty hardy insect repellent that is.

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