Â In my local bookshop this weekend I overheard a customer asking the owner whether she had any books on chicken-keeping. She replied that he was the fourth person in a week to ask and wondered if such thoughts of self sufficiency were a sign of the times.
Similarly in my garden centre there has been a run on logs: fears of the imminent collapse of our food distribution and energy provision systems are evidently causing the good folk of East Kent to ponder survival strategies.
It was like this after 9/11. For a while the most popular properties amongst rural agents were either those with well-cultivated vegetable patches, orchards or fish-stocked ponds, and those with their own water source. Remote bothys in the Highlands of Scotland were also being snapped up. Â Briefly, talk was of a return to a simpler, more self sufficient life: in the face of such madness it was the Voltaire philosophy of sitting tight and cultivating the garden that held sway.
Not for long though - as soon as the imminent danger had passed we all maxed out our credit cards, re-fuelled the housing bubble and gaily spent our way to this current catastrophe. I wonder what will happen to Kent's new chicken-keeping classes in a year or so? Will they all be happily strangling and roasting their loyal egg-layers who got them through a few sticky months or will they be the new kings of the castle, charging Â£5 an egg to the victims of the second Great Depression?