Some time within the next four years there is a one in 40 chance that you, and – heaven forbid – I, will shrivel up and die in a killer heatwave. Failing that, you, and possibly I, will contract malaria, skin cancer, salmonella or some dreadful tick-borne disease. If, thanks to the mysterious workings of providence, we avoid all of those catastrophes, there’s always the possibility of our homes being flooded.
You do not have to take my word for these Biblical prophecies, they come from a greater authority, namely the Health Protection Agency, one of the more richly plumaged quangos of the jungle. It has just produced a report (though “report” hardly does justice to its portentous gravitas) called The Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK.
The accompanying press release says: “The report, written by an Expert Panel, takes into account the latest information and current predictions about climate change in the UK.” Note, that Expert Panel is in capital letters, a powerful indication of its importance.
But let us not be overwhelmed by this fatalism. Though death by killer heatwave is undoubtedly no picnic, I urge you to bear in mind the business adage about threats and opportunities. Callous though it may seem, one person’s heatwave is another’s profit. There will be money to be made.
Each of us will have our own ideas. Some may invest in mortuaries, others in ice cream. Speaking for myself, I have chosen to look at the bigger picture and am launching The Murray Correspondence Course in Scaremongering. Yes folks, in six easy stages you, too, will master the secrets of putting the wind up and (if I might for a moment be indelicate) filling the pants of entire populations. I shall reveal tricks that only insiders know; I’ll tell you how to begin with a small truth and expand it into a huge lie; I’ll show how statistics can convince anybody of anything; I’ll demonstrate seven foolproof ways of getting your scare into the papers and keeping it there.
Each programme comes complete with textbooks and course material. You will learn in easy stages, progressing at your own pace in the privacy of your own home. You will find how to detect danger in seemingly harmless objects and circumstances; to show how pain and death can arise from everyday acts such as sitting in the sun. Building on that knowledge, you will develop techniques of discovering menace in household objects and move on to greater technological threats such as mobile phone radiation. An entire module is devoted to the hugely popular specialities “Food and How it Kills” and “Your Child is in Danger”. As your confidence and skills grow you will learn the words and phrases that inspire fear in others and when to use them. “An accident waiting to happen” and “Not if, but when” are tried and trusted but there are others that work wonders, many of them involving the word “hidden”.
By the time you have completed the course and received a diploma there is no challenge to which you will be unequal. “Tsunami to destroy Brighton” will be well within your compass, as will “Toddlers’ play groups at risk of avian hepatitis A, B and C”.
Yes, you say, that is all very well, but where’s the money? Scaremongering is one of Britain’s biggest industries and one of its most successful. Only the City of London has such a proud record. As a qualified scaremonger, you will be eligible to join one of many illustrious bodies such as the Health Protection Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Health, as well as have your pick of numberless lobbyists including Action on Smoking and Health, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, as well as smaller bijou organisations, for example the Liberal Party.
All of these posts are well paid and for life. The governmental and related organisations offer index-linked pensions of a size and quality that cannot be found outside the public service. The hours are not especially demanding and the working environment is friendly and informal. Pay and conditions apart, there is immense job satisfaction in seeing a scare well done, in taking it through from its inception as a small worry and developing it into a fully grown and mature horror story. And there’s the public profile, too. With the advent of 24-hour news channels, there is a huge and unsatisfied demand for qualified scaremongers to be interviewed by the delectable Kate Silverton.
Why are you waiting? Sign up now and receive absolutely free of charge my book Invasion of the Killer Centipedes. It could change your life.