How to Survive a Dirty Bomb

Scratch the surface and you’ll find a residual fear lurking within many Londoners, a fear that our fair capital may be destroyed by the actions of a monstrous, amoral group of fanatics motivated by self-interest and with no regard for the well-being of others.

But if the politicians don’t get us, it’s quite possible that a terrorist group will detonate a radiological dispersal device – otherwise known as a ‘dirty bomb’.

There you’ll be, in the queue at the sandwich shop trying to get excited by avocado and prawn, when an almighty flash and an ear-splitting crack will be followed by flying glass, a cacophony of car alarms and people moaning about how they’re going to get home. Inconvenient, irritating and you can forget about that bap.

If, like me, your first reaction would be to repair to the pub until it all blows over, you’re likely to find yourself in good company. Yes, there will be the stoical noobs, gamely ordering pints out of a sense of duty or defiance, but there will also be real, dedicated Deserters, unable and unwilling to change the habits of a lifetime, who would have been in the pub anyway and for whom the solution to everything is to prop up a bar, eat peanuts and exchange opinions.

After the 7/7 bombings I headed to the Lord Clyde in Borough where I knew with absolute certainty that a coterie of muckers would have gathered. What is more, it took only a minimum of cajoling to get the TVs turned over from the live rolling news coverage to the evening race meeting at Doncaster. Normalcy was resumed. Through the simple use of ale, Sky Sports, home-made pies and a bit more ale, we had beaten terrorism.

But I digress. So, a dirty bomb has exploded in town. Buildings have been obliterated, lives tragically lost and a plume of radioactive fallout hangs ready to be taken by the wind. In our latest public service feature, we ask: Would it actually be that bad?

Would it actually be that bad?
Would it actually be that bad?


The early symptoms of radiation sickness – nausea, headaches, diarrhoea, dehydration – are not unlike those of any given morning, so it can be initially difficult to know if you’ve been affected. Either way, you will not be expected into work so our advice is to head in anyway. There will be no-one there and nothing to do – just how you like it – plus you may be able to claim a few days off in lieu later on, when the weather’s a bit better.

Even if it is down to death, illness and mass panic, train commuters will finally have something to celebrate – you will once again be able to board Southeastern trains at the first attempt, even if you do have to spend the entire journey licking the doors.

For the unemployed, job opportunities will knock as an army of decontaminators will be required to clean up affected areas. Yes, it may not be the dream job but due to health concerns the working day will be limited to 90 minutes, as all working days should be. Plus, you get your own uniform.


Although radioactive poisoning is really, very debilitating, for those unhampered by employment it does provide a legitimate reason to lie in bed all day eating Haribo and watching box sets. It’s also a good time to chance your arm with some cheeky domestic service requests.

‘You couldn’t get me another glass of wine, could you, love?’

‘Get it yourself, you lazy arse.’

‘Babe, I’ve got fucking radiation sickness! You know that. Splash of elderflower, please.’

On the dieting front, forget it. Now is not the time for muesli and blueberries, now is the time for corned beef hash fashioned into a volcano with two fried eggs in the crater and a lava flow of hot pepper sauce. Do not let mass destruction interfere with your creativity in the kitchen – if you do that, the terrorists have won.

Due to the risks of contaminated water supply there is likely to be a rush on bottled water as people hoard for the coming months. Leave them to it. Now is your chance to return to simpler times, when fear of disease-bearing water led to medieval folk having beer for breakfast and lunch, before skipping dinner and then having it for breakfast again. As the saying goes, ‘The past is behind us, learn from it; the future is ahead of us, prepare for it; the present is here, fuck it.’



Take the opportunity to go out more. In the aftermath of a dirty bomb, London’s air pollution is likely to be marginally better than at present. You may even be able to finally shake that niggly cough, shortly before succumbing to catastrophic organ failure.

Dating will be made a lot easier as widespread hideous disfigurement will seriously level the playing field, giving you the pick of previously unattainable partners. You can even create a little back story for yourself, in which your modelling career was cruelly cut short when your beautiful face was directly exposed to the devastating radioactive blast. They don’t need to know that in fact you’ve always alarmed children and small animals.

Drugs will help, and not just paracetamol. Due to the dust cloud, though, now is not the best time for smoking weed. Instead go for that E you’ve had stashed upstairs for three years after you didn’t take it at Moira’s Hawaiian luau. More than ever, it’s a great time for a chemically induced love for your fellow man.


When it comes to looting, instead of helping yourself to TVs and other electrical goods, go to the banks and simply take cash. As we know, the government will bail them out so, if you don’t think about it too hard, it’s a victimless crime.

The aftermath of any dirty bomb attack will favour buyers in London’s hot property market. Most buildings will be still standing but many of their occupants will either be incinerated or terribly, terribly ill and unable to resist any reasonable offer. Although formally unconfirmed, it’s also likely that in the event of a dirty bomb attack, stamp duty will be slashed or even abolished altogether. If you can stay alive for three months, you may finally get that dream move up the property ladder.

For renters, remember radioactive decontamination is the responsibility of your landlord. They’ll get to it right after they sort out the damp that’s been there for five years.


There’s more on the plus points of Armageddon on our podcast:

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Image credits: Main image by Maxwell Hamilton, Sorted by Fakk0, both used under this licence; Banksy by Alan Benzie, used under this licence