Saturday 4 August 2018

The Saturday List #182 - Ten top household tips to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse #Brexit (or such like)

Image result for brexit zombie apocalypse
Will Brexit be a Zombie Apocalypse?
You may have noticed that the Barnet Eye was rather quiet last week. I was away in France and I had a social media detox. I had far better things to do, such as enjoy myself! What it did do was focus my mind on various issues around how we should personally be preparing for #Brexit. Of course, none of us know how it will work out, however for such a major change to the British economy, we can look at what is likely to happen and make sensible precautions. I do not subscribe to the school of thought that Brexit will be like a Zombie Apocalypse, although it makes a great blog Title (I must say that Theresa May's negotiations are starting to make me wonder). I simply take the view that when there are rain clouds on the horizon, you buy an umbrella and don't trust Michael Fish when he says it will be sunny in Mill Hill, but showers in Burnt Oak.

Here is my list of sensible precautions for both remainers and leavers. Please add a comment at the bottom if I've missed any.

1. Check your family tree to see if you can get an EU passport. If you only go on holiday every six years to Ibiza, this is probably not worth doing, but if you travel to the EU on a regular basis, it may spare you much grief at immigration desks. I have an Irish Grandfather, so I am definitely considering it.

2. Consider getting a fixed rate mortgage. Interest rates have risen this week for only the second time in a decade. They are at a historical low. Typically they rise when the economy is doing well. This is because demand outstrips supply and so prices start rising. By raising interest rates, the Bank of England damps down demand and encourages people to take advantage of generous rates for savers. Traditionally when the economy tanks, the Bank lowers rates to boost demand. Brexit is likely to have a completely different effect. In a no deal scenario, the cost of imports from the EU and exports to the EU will immediately go up by 10% due to tariffs. This will mean that everything from the EU will get more expensive. Customers for British goods in the EU will suddenly find that our products are less competitive. Whatever happens, there will be a major rebalance of our economy. If you believe Leavers, this will lead to a massive boom as we find new export markets and find new trade deals. If you believe Remainers, then the bank will have to raise interest rates to support sterling. In either scenario rates will rise. Of course they may not, but at least with a fixed rate mortgage, you will have some idea of what your household bills will be in the short to medium term.

3. Buy a BMW tomorrow. I'm not a BMW driver, it's a Ford Galaxy for me, but if I was and I was looking at upgrading my car in the next 18 months, I'd do it now. If there is a no deal scenario, you may find that your new car suddenly costs a great deal more. We will not get a better deal with the EU than the one we've got, so this is a relatively risk free precaution if expensive German cars float your boat and you want a new one next year.

4. Buy a holiday villa in Tuscany. Again, this isn't a piece of advice I'll be taking, but following Brexit it is likely to become harder to purchase property in the EU. So if you are considering such a move, and it's not just Tuscany, it could be France, Ireland or Spain, then I'd recommend doing it as soon as possible. On the subject of Holidays, book a 3 week holiday in Orlando USA the week before Brexit. If it goes really tits up, claim Political Asylum in the USA, they can't actually legally refuse you, as under their constitution the UK is viewed as a hostile power. Claim Theresa May's government is trying to murder you.  They have to grant you asylum I ( I am not making this up).

5. Prepare for food shortages. It was rather controversially announced that the British Government had started to stockpile food. In a doomsday scenario, it is reported that trucks could be snarled up at customs checks at the channel leading to empty shelves. Whilst this is most likely to hit seasonable perishable goods such as tomatoes, strawberries and danish bacon, it is always possible that this triggers frantic buying of other key items. I compiled a  quick list of items I'd have a few weeks supply of. These are non perishable, so in the worst case scenario, you'd simply use them up over the course of a few weeks anyway.

You can also subscribe to Alaska Granny's Youtube channel for hints on how to Stockpile food. Not sure I totally agree with her strategy (Why do survivalists never mention toilet roll which is an essential part of the process of eating), but she's far more of an expert than me in such matter. I do take the view that there are plenty of calories in beer and wine, so I was a tad upset to see she'd missed these esssentials. Whilst they may not help you defeat a Zombie apocalypse, they are essential to surviving this governments attempts to chart a path through Brexit!

6. Refresh the wine cellar with your favourite French, Spanish and Italian wines. This is another area likely to be hit by tariffs and queues at customs. A well stocked wine cellar is clearly a great asset in times of trial and tribulation. On the good news side, we may well see whisky and beer become cheaper (unless you like Bushmills).

7. Have that holiday of a lifetime now. Have you ever planned to have a luxury holiday at a European destination? If you have and you have the money, I'd strongly suggest you have it now. If the Leavers are right and the economy booms sending the pound through the roof, you'll soon be able to afford another one. If the Remainers are right and the economy goes belly up, then at least you've ticked that off your bucket list.

8. Get a full medical MOT. One of the more alarming suggestions is that the UK will stop cooperating on radioactive materials. This may mean that all manner of medical procedures cannot source the necessary isotopes. This could cost you your life, if the NHS can't source the required quantities for your treatment, so better get anything done sooner rather than later. And even if the scaremongering is nonsense, it is always worth getting screened for the major killers, so this one is a sensible precaution anyway.

9.  Buy Gold. Don't be like Gordon Brown. Silly of Gordon thought that selling off all the gold reserves just before a major crash hit the world economy was a very clever move. Whilst poor old Gordon had no inkling that there would be a major shock to the world economic system, you don't have to be a genius to figure out that Brexit could cause all manner of stresses to the UK economy. I wouldn't put all my money in gold, as eggs should be spread across many baskets, but as it is historically the safe house of finance when times are troubled, it is certainly worth putting some of your investments into precious metals. I'd say that with the likes of Putin, Trump and the Mullah's in Iran, there are not exactly a shortage of reasons to be cautious with your investments (Please note that I'm not a qualified financial adviser, so I am just expressing a personal opinion here).

10. Give your loved ones a really amazing Xmas this year (or whatever winter festival you usually celebrate). Xmas 2018 will be the last Xmas we have in the EU. Our turkey always comes from Norfolk, so no worries there but we usually have a few bottles of nice French wines and Brandy. We get presents from all over the world and we rely on our income from our studio business to pay for it all. It may well be that in a years time, we are all saying "What was all the #Brexit fuss about? it has turned out fine". If that is the case, then you simply had an amazing Xmas (or whatever). But just suppose the economy tanks, then at least you'll be able to sit back and say "I'm glad we had a great Christmas whilst times were good".

It is not "being part of project fear" to plan, to make arrangements and to work to mitigate the effects of potential global problems. Here is my survival list. I would recommend four weeks supplies. If you have much more, the neighbours will probably come around and rob you

60 litres of bottled water
4 bags of sugar
8 Large packs of Pastapasta
28 tins of fish and meat
6 packs of stock cubes
10 p 10 frozen trout if you prefer
20 frozen steaks (per person - You only live once - Substitue 30 Quornburgers per person for veggies)
herbs & pepper (dried garlic, salt, pepper, dried chillies and other things that make slop edible)
2 tubs of powdered milk
14 jars of Pasta  sauces
20 large chocolate bars (stored under lock and key if you have kids)
30 tins of Dog/Cat/Fish Food (or appropriate given Rover's diet) (Delete as appropriate)
30 Toilet Rolls (The last thing you want to run out of)
6 tubes of toothpaste (your mates will nick them when it runs short)
30 bottles of fine red wine
124 pints of bottle Guinness

If there are power outages then use the Steaks and Trout to have a barbeque, your friends will appreciate it. Tell them to bring their own plonk!

I have to confess, this list was not entirely my own work. Six months before the financial crash, a friend in the know advised me to sell all of my bank shares. If I did, I'd have had a quarter of a million quid. I didn't listen. RBS shares dropped from £5 to 10p. Lloyds also tanked. I asked the same friend about #Brexit. He said "It is unprecedented. We don't know what Brexit means, we don't know how it will affect the economy and there are no economic models to base any projections on. So I said "What are you doing?". He said "Getting an Irish Passport so I can work in Germany, I've taken out a fixed rate mortgage so I know my outgoings, I've got a new BMW before they get tariffs slapped on them, I'm buying a villa in Tuscany, so I've got a bolt hole if it all goes wrong here, we're going to restock the larder in February just in case and we've done several wine shopping trips to France to restock the cellar, we've booked an amazing holiday at a very exclusive Italian resort that we've been meaning to do for years, we've both had a full medical MOT just in case there are issues with medicines etc, I've liquidated 15% of my portfolio and put it into precious metals and we are planning an amazing Xmas, just in case".

And then he said "There really is no downside. If the world goes pop, no one hates the Italians and we'll have enough gold to live comfortably until it sorts itself out, besides gold is relatively cheap right now, just like it was when Gordon flogged it all. If it doesn't, I've got a new car, a lovely villa, a well stocked wine cupboard and enough tins of beans and pasta to see the kids through Uni".

For me, I don't think we'll be buying a BMW (a BMX bike maybe?), or a villa in Tuscany. The wine cellar sounds good though! We always have a pretty good Xmas and we've booked a holiday to Australia in October. We are also going to making a large supply of pickles and chutneys, to augment the pasta and tins of sardines.

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