December 2016 Club
The End of the World Running Club
by Adrian J. Walker
Edgar is an overweight, half-hearted father who is partial to a drink and bored with the general banality of raising a young family. He sums his life up as “Watch television. Drink. Smoke. Buy. Consume. Breed. Sleep. Die.” Anything that involves effort just seems too much for him and he certainly isn’t a runner “To me, running was just showing off, a way for self-obsessed pricks to tell other people how much more focused, disciplined and healthy they were than you.”
To some extent, the premise of the book screams But What if you Had to Run from the start.
One night, the UK is devastated by asteroid strikes. From that moment, society – or what’s left of it, most of the population is wiped out - breaks down. Ed must fight for the survival of his family, even if that involves punching his way into the local corner shop to steal water and batteries in once genteel Edinburgh.
The family survives for a couple of weeks in their basement, having first fought off their neighbours who wanted to join them in a particularly harrowing scene. They are rescued by a helicopter from the local barracks where they spend some time assessing their situation and coming to terms with the utter devastation within the city.
One day, while Ed is out scavenging in the ruins of the city, his wife and children are rescued by a helicopter in an evacuation to boats in Cornwall. Ed understands that his wife had to go – it was the only hope to save his children – but is kicking himself for not listening to her trying to persuade him not to go on the scavenging expedition.
His only choice is to head to the south coast to try to catch up with his family. But with the roads blasted apart by the strikes and huge traffic jams going nowhere – the occupants of the cars are decomposing – he gradually comes to terms with the fact that the only way he’s going to make it within three weeks before the boats depart, is to run.
Together with a biker tattooist, a female military officer, a determined father and an Australian pensioner who claims he ran across his homeland, they make a motley crew, but at least they can trust each other – unlike some of the other soldiers who turned out to be only out for themselves and their own survival.
Along the way, they encounter some decidedly dodgy pig farmers and a fierce new mother around Carlops, an elderly aristocrat staying put in his mansion, a new societal order run by a somewhat daunting woman in the suburbs of Manchester and Ed has a hallucinogenic encounter with a Jesus-like figure in a 100-mile long canyon which created the illusion of hope.
In typical road-trip style, we’re on tenterhooks as to whether he’ll make it in time to be reunited with his family and the tension continues right until the last minutes of the book.
Even if post-apocalyptic novels aren’t really your bag, there’s something gripping about this book and the relationships between the characters in an uncertain world. It offers a commentary on our current society, “filling our world with distraction… perhaps there was a reason why we surrounded ourselves with plastic and light and excess. Perhaps our collective consciousness remembered all too well what it was like in darkness, surrounded by wet, rotten wood, mud, and nothing good to eat.” The descriptions of Edinburgh were so evocative as the author described places I hadn’t even thought of since childhood. And finally, it carries the age-old message: We don’t know what we’re capable of until we try.
I managed to pick myself another challenging book in relation to colour. There weren’t many colours described other than mud, murk and debris – “the landscape was flat, colourless, scrubbed clean of life.” But there was blue and there was grey. However, I didn’t want to create a static semi-solid – I wanted to create some movement in the colour, so I first dyed the yarn with a slate-grey and then overdyed it with a slate-blue to create shaded slate blue. I called it Meltwater.
For the variegated, the main aim was to avoid green – there was a distinct, noticeable lack of green in the book. So I took the slate-blue and the slate-grey and added some muddy brown and splash of mustard orange-yellow to represent the whisky they drank and time they first saw sunshine again. The colours were randomly dyed together to create Whiskystone.
The yarn base is Flockly – with its down-to-earth BFL, it was the most suitable base to take the colours I wanted to achieve. Although the book didn’t contain much luxury, I wanted to treat you to an element of cashmere and silk.