England is a scary place at the best of times; long gone are the days of the mid afternoon Pimm’s break followed by a stroll in the countryside, where the only worry was whether or not you would make it back for second innings of the cricket on the old wireless.
As anyone who has been to England recently can testify, it is now a post-apocalyptic hell-hole, with streets governed by blood-thirsty gangs of feral 12 year olds, while terrorists loiter at every bus stop, and A-level graduates huddle together to seek shelter around fires having been denied the opportunity of a student loan.
So, as if that was not enough too keep everyone barricaded in their houses, the British Geological Survey has provided yet another reason for people to start running around their local town centre shrieking in a state of abject terror. In fact it may well be time to bring out the Morrison shelter, because, as of this week, England is now under the imminent threat of killer earthquakes.
But not the type that wreak havoc in other more dangerous countries of course, where a tremor such as the Haitian or New Zealand quakes means the very real chance of many deaths, injuries and displacements.
In England, floods aside, natural disasters are often as few and far between as a perilous, high-octane episode of The Archers.
However Geologist Dr Roger Musson has warned that a crack in the earth’s crust around the Dover Strait could cause carnage in London and the south-east at any moment, having previously been responsible for quakes measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale in 1382 and 1580, leading to a combined death toll of two in over 600 years.
“In the years since 1580 the exposure of society to earthquakes has increased enormously. The same earthquake happening tomorrow will impact far more people than was the case in the 16th Century,” explained Musson at the British Science Festival in Birmingham.
“The size of London in terms of population is about 50 times more today than it was then. So if two people were killed in London in 1580, you can imagine for yourself what sort of scaling up that could mean for a contemporary earthquake of the same size.”
“If you go round the streets of London today and just look up at the roofline, you will probably see a lot of weak, old ornaments and chimneys that it is surprising didn't come down in the last gale.”
While the largest quake since 1580 resulted merely in the wax work head of Dr Crippen falling from its perch in Madame Tussauds back in the thirties, it is thought this may not inspire Wyclef Jean to throw his hat into the mayoral race quite yet. However Dr Musson is adamant that vigilance is vital if our proud nation is to survive the potential peril that awaits us.