I WAS driving along the M62 in West Yorkshire the other day and passed a sign in a field.
The End of the World is Nigh, it warned. Now where had I heard that before?
It made me wonder what sort of crank, presumably double parked the other side of obsessive compulsive disorder, posts such placards?
What do they hope to achieve other than a pile-up as distracted drivers ponder their mortality?
Having seen a lorry blown over in 70 mph gusts minutes earlier – the cab straddling the central reservation, the container careering across two carriageways and leaking diesel – I’d already been given sufficient pause for thought, thank you.
It was one of those what if moments – when suddenly being made to hang around a hotel, having checked out half an hour earlier, for my mum to feed biscuits to the resident chaffinches, became a stroke of luck, blessing some might say.
Minutes earlier we might have been in the path of that jack-knifing lorry – and waiting for one of those six police cars, one fire engine, two ambulances and recovery truck to extricate us from the mess.
There but for the grace of digestive biscuits and importunate beaks go we. That’s how life’s cookie crumbles.
It’s all a question of timing. Take American evangelist Harold Camping’s warning the world was going to end last Saturday.
Harold appears to be the Carry On Camping of apocalyptic harbingers. He exaggerates, as Mark Twain might put it, reports of our collective death.
He first hit on September 6, 1994 as Doomsday, which was remarkable only for a rather unconvincing kiss between Michael Jackson and his missus Lisa Marie (Presley) at the MTV awards. Admittedly, it was pretty chilling.
Undeterred, Harold wound up his Armageddon alarm clock anew, set it to the ultimate in Mean time, and reissued his warning for May 21 this year. Last Saturday. The day before Blackpool FC lost to Manchester United and crashed out of the Premiership. The end of the world as some know it.
Now he’s come up with October 21 for the new End of Days, when believers (if not of all faiths) will be “Raptured”, taken off to heaven, ash clouds permitting, while folk like me endure earthquakes and calamities and a period of intense persecution known as the Coalition – sorry, The Tribulation. That’s before we get beheaded – even if we convert on the spot.
In an unfortunate choice of phrase, Harold concedes “we don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time.” Come off the cross, Harold, we need the wood! Still, looking on the bright side of life, Harold will now need to muster the energy to blow out all 90 candles on his birthday cake inferno in July.
Armageddon out of here... just not via the motorway.