What is ‘British Post-ApUKalyptic’?
The Post-Apocalyptic genre has been with us for centuries but has drawn the most attention in a variety of forms just these last few decades. With the increased interest in life after doomsday we have been treated to ample opportunities to immerse ourselves in depictions of our world post-disaster.
There’s just one problem; those depictions are predominantly the same.
Leather-clad warriors, gratuitous clothing spikes, inexplicable quantities of functioning firearms, desert scarves in all weathers, and rusted vehicular death machines. These are elements of some of our favourite post-apocalyptic fictions. But while they may be indicative of most of the doomsday content that graces are screens, it’s hard to consider them a viable image for what the UK would like in pretty much any ‘end of days’ scenario.
Enter, British Post-ApUKalyptic. The goal when conceiving this sub-genre was to remove tropes that did not tally with some core facts about the UK. Namely:
Our lack of wide highways and open flat land to justify destruction derby style transport
Our lack of easily accessible modern weaponry
Our changeable and often crappy weather
Once we stripped the elements of the post-apocalyptic genre that directly contradicted the above, we moved on to supplanting them with qualities that made sense.
Or were at least fun.
The weather in the UK is pretty different to that of the US or Australia, where it seems most modern post-apocalyptic imagery is derived from. Hot summers do occur, but most of the year is spent in various states of cold, wet gloom.
Survivors are likely to wear layers of clothing to better adapt to the changing temperatures and carry waterproofs at all times. Umbrellas are just as useful at keeping the rain off as they are now but given their propensity for exploding into pieces when you least expect it, they will likely be repaired several times over mere weeks into the New World Age.
Jumpers (cardigans) feature greatly as an aid against the cold. Thick woollen pullovers, gloves, and hats are commonplace most of the year around with scarves being added to the ensemble in the winter.
Sturdy boots don’t differ much from the typical genre findings, but wellington boots also find their use as wet and boggy land is more apparent due to the lack of managed drainage.
Leather is an unlikely material to dress in, but still useful for satchels, bandoliers, gloves and other practical implementations. Anyone caught in leather in the rain is going to wish they hadn’t left the shelter that morning, and brought a raincoat instead. Consider canvas as an alternative.
So considering the above, how does British Post-ApUKalyptic wear look any different from typical camping gear? Here’s a few thoughts on what you can do to accentuate that Day of Reckoning look.
Wear, tear, and patches
Additional padding / pockets
Modified carrying gear for easy access (bandoliers, pouches, belts etc.)
Surplus armed forces gear
Deliberately mismatching clothes, chosen for quality not style
Green colourings for camouflage in a lusher countryside environment – grey for urban
Or bright colours, like celtic war paints
Added armour, built primarily to take a blow rather than a bullet – cricket pads recommended!
Outside of the police and military, there are few civilian owned firearms in the UK that aren’t either sports pistols for competitive use, or rifles or shotguns for agricultural work. While serviceable firearms will no doubt be found and used the lack of ammunition, training, and tools compared to US inspired post-apocalyptic fictions will see guns being used a lot less.
Luckily there are strong roots for alternative means of defence within UK history. Archery and similar non-combustible forms of firepower such as axe throwing are common within the sub-genre. Other forms of medieval-esque equipment are likely prevalent too given the comparative ease of construction and availability of materials.
Whilst the UK doesn’t lack for large urban environments like some typical post-apocalyptic settings it does offer two locations of note that offer both strategic value to would-be survivors and uniquely symbolic imagery to us as purveyors.
Hilly Countryside and Old Castles.
Whilst our historic castles cannot stand up to assault by modern weaponry, the eventual obsolescence of such will provides these buildings with purpose once again. Many are still intact enough to ward off hostiles should the occasion rise. Where a post-apocalyptic encampment is typically fenced by a wall of rusted scrap, a British post-apUKalyptic encampment could boast ramparts and a drawbridge.
Our sprawling countryside is not to be ignored either. Survival in isolation is a common tactic and where better to hide than the roaming hills or deep forests the nation has to offer?
In the towns and cities, we can look to history once again for how events may alter our ways of living. The Blitz spirit may surface once again as communities seek to aid and provide shelter for one another. The apocalypse does not necessarily have to be all bleak.
If you read through this and got impressions of Robin Hood’s Merry Band taking cover behind an upended Land Rover Discovery or people peddling homemade wares in an underground station turned busy shelter then that’s good – those are some of the things we’ve considered too.
But if you came up with something totally different that’s great too! The British Post-ApUKalyptic sub-genre is not one definitive set of imagery and it benefits from creative approaches at showing how life in the UK would look like post-catastrophe.
What started as a process to de-Americanise the genre in an attempt to ground it in some semblance of realism has opened up an opportunity to celebrate what makes us different.
We look forward to seeing what you all come up with.