Living on the edge ... something we all do every day it seems, whether we realise it or not.
We had a severe storm in SW France recently - high winds which did a lot of damage. Hundreds of thousands of homes were without (a) electricity and hence (b) water, since the pump stations could not function and (c) telephone, so no access to the god Google.
Everything stopped, and it made me wonder just how small the calamity would have to be to wipe much of mankind off the map.
How many days supply of food and water is there in a city like Paris? (Or London, New York or Calcutta). Two days? Three? Five? How long would it take for crazed millions to start pouring out of those cities and into the countryside?
And paradoxically, though I guess obviously, the less technology you have, the less you are affected.
For example, no electricity means no heat for most people, since the electronics and pumps in heating systems stop working. However, for us, heat means a wood-burning stove, so it was business as usual.
It's a bit limited, but we can use the top of the same stove as a cooking hob.
Water pressure started to drop almost immediately after the storm, as water towers began to empty. It wasn't long before we needed to collect and drink water from our "source", a spring that is in a cave directly under our house.
Therefore we were luckier than many. However, no running water means no flushing toilets, no baths and no showers, and it wasn't many days before I would have parted with a large denomination banknote in exchange for a soak and a hair-wash.
Anyway, services were restored in a few days, except for our comprehensively thrashed telephone line - got that back in 10 days. I like the pragmatism of the telephone engineers. There's about half a kilometer of line down (three or four separate trees came down on it), but they've repaired the break on the line as it lies there, forlornly, and will string it up later when they have more time.
So there you have it. Our predecessors, who have lived here since the 12th century, would have noticed little different after the storm, apart from a few trees down. For us modern types, life suddenly became a whole lot more challenging.
It does not bode well, methinks.
On a more cheerful note, no heat, light or computer = heading off to the Pyrenees for a few day's skiing. Nothing remarkable about that, except for the charming honesty of rural France. We stayed in a tiny hotel for two nights, car parked on the street outside with five pairs of skis on top (just held by those elastic things) and not a worry in the world that they might disappear.