It's a disaster - but not just yet . . . hopefully

For most of my childhood, my gran had a "round tuit" hanging on the wall near her airing cupboard. It used to titillate my funny bone, once I was old enough to get the joke which, I'm ashamed to reveal, was well into my high school years.

The "round tuit" was indeed round, with what I remember to be stylish macrame edging. Whilst my gran was what you would firmly call a crochet queen, everyone in the 70s was into macrame, including many of her crafty friends.

The "round tuit", for those who've never seen one, is a reference to the saying "once I get around to it".

The joke is that now you have a "round tuit", there's no excuse to put off the job in hand. I know, it's not only clever, but quite amusing as well.

Everyone who was anyone had a "round tuit" in those days.

It applied well to my grandmother, who was known to say the phrase every now and again, and it certainly applies to me as well.

A great procrastinator, I am - my motto is why do something now that you can easily put off until later?

Particularly cleaning the shower plughole or the bottom of the dishwasher!

Gran's "round tuit" is long gone now, but every now and then I'm reminded of its surprisingly poignant message. The most recent reminder was at the weekend, watching the floods in New York ebb and flow.

Right then and there, I decided it was time to organise a disaster pack to store at the bottom of the pantry.

Of course I should have organised it years ago, or at least after the Canterbury earthquakes. We live close to the sea in a natural wind tunnel, miles from the CBD and a good hour's walk to the nearest supermarket.

Our local shopping centre is packed with hairdressers, fast food outlets, a video shop, three bakeries, two physiotherapists and a medical centre, where you can never get an appointment inside a week of ringing.

The little Four Square on the corner would, in an emergency, be as much use as tits on a bull. Its innards would be plundered by desperate customers, and the dairy is quite frankly too expensive, even if Rangitoto is erupting and a tsunami is racing smack dab into our house.

There are some inflated prices that even I refuse to pay.

But every time I think about making an emergency pack, I think to myself I will when I get around to it. Unfortunately, that's generally never. So on Sunday, I got out the stepladder and torch, and delved into the far reaches of the pantry to see what I could find, before I could change my mind.

To say I was surprised and shocked is an understatement.

I clean my pantry when I get around to it, which usually means once a month.

Allowing for the fact that our Eldest Child is here on holiday, Quiet Middle Child is on study leave from school and Little Weenie has had her usual 50-or-so best friends forever over for sleep- overs, the $500 or so we spent at the supermarket last week had diminished somewhat.

What I found was that if we had a major emergency today, our family of four/sometimes five/ every now and again up to 10 hangers-on would have the following to live on:

1. A tin of beetroot (best before April 1999).

2. A tin of mild chillibeans (with a tab opening).

3. A large container of flour (reasonably fresh).

4. Two tablespoons of cocoa powder (crusty and hard).

5. A half-open bottle of cranberry (slightly sugared on the bottom).

6. A tin of Jenny Craig bean salad (small).

7. A container of miscellaneous herbs and spices (all past their best-before).

8. Several opened and half-eaten packets of crackers, crispbreads and biscuits (all stale).

9. One packet of WeightWatchers jelly crystals (lemon).

10. A whole packet of drinking chocolate (that nobody but Eldest Child likes).

11. Several packs of penne pasta.

12. Two half-eaten Nutrigrain cereal boxes and a nearly empty Weet-Bix packet.

13. One container each of Vegemite, apricot jam and some weird hazelnut spread that expired five years ago.

14. One four-pack of single-ply toilet paper.

15. Three free samples of iced tea mix, and 20 Burger King tomato sauce sachets.

16. A half loaf of white bread, slightly mouldy.

Add to that what was in the fridge - about 50g of cheese, one bottle of non-fat milk, one 1kg of yoghurt that's three months expired, one half loaf of banana bread, one pack of English muffins, a tub of lemon honey (my favourite) and some white stuff in a Tupperware container that looked like condensed milk but appeared to be morphing into something alive - and things were looking decidedly worrying.

My mood cheered when I realised I hadn't counted the contents of Hubby's beer and meat fridge downstairs. An exploration discovered half a dozen Tiger and some Chinese beer, two packs of mince and some sorry-looking snags. I realised with a stab of fear that we wouldn't last more than five minutes if we had to fend for ourselves.

So I sat on the couch to panic and plan. In the corner, our ginger moggy Britney Whitney Houston Shakira Beyonce Calvert looked back at me. Mmmmmm, I thought. If we fired up the barbie, she'd make for a pretty bony but nutritional meal for four/five. And our other pet, the stupid birman, would make a nice lean stew that could be strung out for two or three days, at least.

Next door's floppy-eared rabbit would be ideal on toast with mushrooms, and the irritating yappy dog over the road could provide some tasty spare rib canapes.

What we didn't have was water, a radio that worked on batteries, any operating torches, warm blankets, any medical supplies of any kind, a toilet paper supply that would last more than 12 hours or a small diesel-fuelled generator in the back shed (or any diesel, for that matter). Just then, the phone rang and a friend asked me out to lunch. Oh bugger it, I thought.

I'll finish the disaster pack when I get around to it.

Taranaki Daily News