Prove your humanity: 10   +   9   =  

The sun is shining. Or rather, it’s a scorching hot ball of flames almost close enough to touch that does nothing but bring misery and distress to the already over-heated Planet Earth.

The year is 2085 and Ethel and Nancy are back.

Global warming and pollution have reached such extreme levels in the past few years that although the average life expectancy of a human has seen a dramatic increase (female: 146 years 10 months; male: 141 years 3 months), the planet is no longer a viable habitat.

While the pickled head of Richard Branson and a 12-year-old Korean-American genius called Kim try to formulate a plan to somehow take all of Earth’s citizens to a different planet, the entire population are confined to safehouses and bunkers scattered throughout North America, Europe and Mongolia (the rest of the planet having already been burnt to a cinder by the sun’s rays and overcome by freakishly oversized human-eating coyotes).

No longer swaying back and for in our rocking chairs on the porch, Nancy and I are instead confined to an old underground bunker in Cardiff that hasn’t been used since the long-forgotten Nuclear World War of 2018. In homage to that time, there’s a faded but still clearly visible crudely painted mural of Theresa May snogging Donald Trump on one wall, and a bright and clearly very much looked after depiction of Barack Obama as Baby Jesus on the other. Curled up in a manger, the Three Kings (Ellen Degeneres, The Rock, and Bob Marley) look over him fondly.

Nancy looks up at the sun through the skylight (our only connection to the outside world) and sighs.

“Ethel, can you imagine what it’ll be to leave and never come back,” she asks wistfully.

I’d like to say Nancy’s talking out of her arse, but she has a point. Our species hadn’t looked after the planet and now half of it was burnt, the other half very much on its way to Cinder-town.

Imagine that. 

Imagine living somewhere, setting up a home, falling in love with the place and the people around you, making memories there, and then having to leave, knowing you’ll probably never be able to return.

I’m going to go off track now.

This post was originally intended to be a light-hearted read. I wanted something quick and easy to write as my brain is kind of hurting from lack of sleep. A ‘Would You Rather?‘ type scenario to put yourself in, to initiate a conversation about which countries are your favourites and why. Perhaps the return of Ethel and Nancy would give some readers a bit of a chuckle (that’s you, Amy).

But having just written that sentence, I can’t not mention the obvious.

This is happening right now. Families are being torn apart, children being murdered in their beds and thousands upon thousands of innocent people are losing everything they have. They are losing their homes, their livelihoods, their family members – absolutely everything they hold dear to them.

Syria. Yemen. Myanmar. Palestine. And so many other places. So many other people.

I’ll be honest when I say that beyond checking Donald Trump’s Twitter for his latest F-up and drawing a moustache on newspaper images of Teresa May, I don’t follow politics anywhere near as much as I should. There’s so much to take in, I wouldn’t know where to start.

But what I do know is that apparently right now we’re on the brink of war?

And that is kind of very super scary – especially when you think that two of the world’s most powerful leaders are nothing but a pair of grumpy old men with their fingers precariously hovering over a very terrifying set of buttons.

The prospect of war is frightening enough, right? So it’s hard to imagine how intense the fear must be for those people currently living through the reality of war every single day of their lives. 

Now back to my original question – imagine if you can’t go back.

What if you had to up and leave today? What if you had to walk through your front door knowing you will never be returning?

As an on-and-off frequent traveller, I know all too well the feeling of walking out of the door not knowing when I’ll be back. And if I’m honest, that’s tough enough. I actually can’t imagine the feeling of leaving and knowing it’s the end.

Now that you’re thinking about that, think about the refugees who have had to flee their homes and are battling their way across the continent to rebuild their lives in a safer, more secure environment for their families. And think about the hostility they are then faced with when we try to turn them away, and when we talk about building walls and closing our borders.

I’m as much of an expert on the Refugee Crisis as I am on politics. Which is to say, my expertise is non-existent. I didn’t intend for this post to go down the war and refugee road. I don’t know how that happened, if I’m honest. As I mentioned earlier, I was actually intending to write a side-splittingly hilarious article that would launch my stand-up comedy career.

If you want to read more personal experiences on helping refugees, I’d highly recommend reading up on Endless Distance’s experience at a refugee camp in France and also Wandering Chocobo’s experience at a refugee camp in Greece.

But you don’t have to give up your time and fly to a different country to help. Consider donating money to a refugee charity, or contact your local refugee centre and ask if they need donations. Then there is the easiest of all ways you can help: smile.

Just smile at people in the streets. Sure, sometimes they may look at you like you’ve got three heads (because since when have we acknowledged strangers in public?!), but you never know, you could turn somebody’s day around.

 Refugee Action and Refugees.org are two of the many, many websites with more information on how you can help in the UK.