Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Reluctant Geek - Bite me…

I am not a morning person. I never have been. When faced with a situation where the world demands that I should be ripped untimely from my bed I tend to resort to stumbling around, wailing incoherently and snarling at anyone unfortunate enough to cross my path. Whilst in this mind fog of resentment and swooning irresistible sleepiness, driven only by the most primitive urges (primarily to go the hell back to bed) I have some sympathy for the lot of another group marked by their shuffling gait, absence of rational thought and tendency to bump into stuff. Perhaps zombies are misunderstood creatures really, only resorting to a little bit of brain snacking out of frustration and sleep deprivation when they’d much prefer just somewhere comfy to lie down and maybe have a nice cup of tea... Well I mean really. Has anyone ever stopped to ask? (This is if they get time before their brains are sucked out of their ears of course.)

What is certain is that sympathetic to their plight or not, we have never been so fascinated by this idea of the undead amongst us. I seem to come across zombies wherever I go at the moment, which makes me feel that the universe is sending me a clear if indecipherable message, (possibly to do with it being rude to bite?!). I’ve tried to trace this pattern back and I suspect that The Walking Dead has an awful lot to answer for. As a comic book with a visceral, paired down style and a body count higher than a psychiatric hospital for lemmings it is brutally engaging enough, but the recent TV series removes another level of distance between us and the heartbreakingly normal, recognisable characters that surround protagonist Rick. And really, poor Rick. As all-American as heroes come, he functions as the epicenter of Hurricane Zombie, death and carnage swirling around him. He resists, but to do so is to engage in a task as endless as that of fighting nature itself. The zombies just keep coming.

Of course, zombies aren’t natural really. One of their most terrifying aspects is the fact that they exist against the natural order of things. If death and taxes are supposed to be the only certainties then zombies cast us loose from even these constants. Not only is your loved one gone, but their corpse is trying to nibble on your shoulder-blade. I’ve talked before about how my gaming tastes tend towards the girly and the obsessive, and in keeping with the sub-conscious "zombie theme' of the present I have become more than a little pre-occupied with a rather lovely game called Plants versus Zombies. Tapping in to this idea that zombies upset the balance of nature, the game involves defending your property by means of the judicious application of a variety of plant-based guardians. Trust me, zombies lose all their terror if the face of a sweet pea shooter or two, a thoughtfully placed walnut or a wonderfully grumpy squash. It is nature’s own backlash against the zombie threat!

But if a little plant based anti-zombie therapy isn’t enough to allay your fears of a living dead invasion, you might take comfort in the idea that our current obsession means that you can look to prepare yourself for the coming apocalypse with people only considering you to be mildly eccentric rather than a total kook. The shops are full of self-help guides with tips and hints for succeeding in your continued existence where others will inevitably fail and films like 28 Days Later and Zombieland are full of good advice for staying alive. (In the case of the latter, it’s as simple as following the ‘rules’ although if you need to be told to ‘beware of bathroom’ you’re probably screwed anyway.)

Finally, you might take comfort in the fact that even the authorities are starting to wake up to the zombie threat. Last week, a "concerned (this may be a euphemism for crazy) citizen" in Leicester berated the City Council there for their lack of preparation in the face of a zombie attack, which if nothing else should meant that the seed of zombie based fear has now registered on the disaster planning authorities map. Perhaps readers, we should be writing our local MP with similar questions. It’s not all about the Coalition and the NHS. Sometimes it’s about infection and reanimated corpses too.

Misunderstood or not, zombies can’t have my brain. At least not for free. There are some mornings when I’d probably swap it for a longer lie in though...

This week Kate is preparing for some cave based partying.

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