I started thinking about this again yesterday in the wee hours of the morning when our power failed and we were facing the prospect of a 100F day without electricity. (Fortunately it came back on before sunrise.) We are heavily dependent upon a rather fragile infrastructure, and there is no way this city could function with half the population evacuated, a sixth of it dead, and who knows how many sick or in quarantine--especially under circumstances where no outside aid would be forthcoming.
What kept London going as a city was its poverty. It was largely those people who had nowhere to go or means to get there who stayed behind and kept things running. People worked (and died) as nurses and watchmen because it was either that or starve. Likewise the farmers from the surrounding lands brought their produce to London because they had no other market.
In an affluent city like Dallas, it wouldn't be a question of "Can we get out?" but "Which car do we take?". Without the manpower to keep the infrastructure running, the few people left behind would soon have no electricity, no running water and no fresh food. They would eventually be reduced to looting canned foods and bottled water from grocery stores. Those too sick to leave home would die from neglect if not the plague.
This scenario reminds me of a book I read not long ago: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, set in London, in which a dual plague of blindness and poisonous plants causes the eventual depopulation of the city. I wonder if Wyndham read Defoe.
I wondered about the "666" coincidence. In fact, I kept checking the date, thinking surely if 1666 were looming there would be some mention of the biblical connection. I'm now curious to learn more about the Great Fire and how the people of London reacted to two such catastrophes in consecutive years.
« Back to index