The world's ending in three weeks, remember. That's according to the MayanLongCount - the timekeeping system of an ancient central American civilisation - which is scheduled to terminate after a 5125 year cycle when the calendar reaches 188.8.131.52.0. Doomsday is confirmed as Friday21December2012, with the grand snuffing-out scheduled to coincide with the winter solstice at 11.12am GMT.
On this date the Earth as we know it is to be destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes, or maybe the magnetic poles will reverse, or maybe there'll be a cosmic hyperspatial breakthrough, or maybe the Chosen will ascend to Heaven, or maybe every living thing on Earth will be translated into the 6th dimension, or maybe our planet will be hit by The Third Comet, or maybe the Solar System will enter a top secret photon belt, or perhaps a unexpected supernova will engulf us all in a ball of gravitational fire. Nobody knows precisely how the world will end, but end it must, and we're all doomed.
It therefore comes as some surprise to see the population of the world continuing their lives as normal. Various participatory events are planned for humanity's final evening, and wild overnight parties the day before, but surely that's leaving things too late? With only a limited amount of consciousness remaining, you'd think more people would be taking the opportunity to make their final twenty days as enjoyable as possible.
I'm taking the week before The End Of Everything off work. It seemed wise. I've booked in under cover of "needing time to prepare for Christmas", but that's clearly hogwash because Christmas is cancelled. The last thing I want is to be stuck commuting into the office as the prophecies unravel. I have no plans to be at the photocopier when the first meteors hit, or firing off a final email as London topples into a pit of boiling lava. There are so many more things on my list of "Things To Do Before I Die", none of which are best served by being in an office.
There are chunks of Scotland I haven't seen yet, and I've always fancied Berlin, and New Zealand would be a great place to be when Armageddon hits. That might require me to waste 5% of my remaining time on a long haul plane flight, but at least the ticket would be one-way. Even better it'd be summer when I arrived, rather than having to live out my final days in an Arctic blast. If I don't use my life savings soon they'll all be wasted, so why not squander them now on excess hedonism and luxury travel?
I should probably go out and buy the biggest TV entertainment system I can afford, so long as pre-Christmas delivery is guaranteed. I should fill my trolley at the supermarket with all the most fattening and sugary provisions I can carry, because I'll never get obese and I'll never have to face the dental consequences. And I should tell all the people I secretly fancy what I really think of them, and the people I truly loathe how much I'm looking forward to their demise, with no fear of long term embarrassment. These Last Days can be golden days if I adopt a properly decadent mentality.
I think it would make sense to take the whole of the next fortnight off work as well. I probably don't need to ring in and tell them, because the worst they can do is sack me, and where's the problem with that? Instead I can swan around for three weeks like I'm on extended holiday, doing whatever the hell I like. Maybe I could persuade you to the same, given that you've got nothing to lose. 2013 might be a non-starter, but the remainder of 2012 could be the time of your life.
However, I'd rather you didn't all skive off work immediately, if that's OK. If you deliver goods to my local supermarket I'd prefer it if you completed a few more shifts so that my fridge doesn't run empty. If you work in public transport I'd rather you fulfilled all your remaining duties to enable me to get about. If your job's in public health I need you to carry on tending to the sick otherwise I risk some godawful epidemic taking me out before my allotted time. And if you work for an electricity company I'd be obliged if you stayed at your post until the bitter end, otherwise a lot of what I'm planning to enjoy won't work.
But eventually, obviously, it's all going to get a bit grim. Once everyone finally twigs that there's no point in carrying on a normal life, society will swiftly unravel. The lights will go out, our heating will fail, the internet will cease to function and the police will collapse under the pressure of widespread insurrection. When arson goes unchallenged, when murder has no repercussions, that's when the whole "end of the world" thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But that's OK, because all the sensible people will be on a far-flung beach by then, feasting on champagne and chocolates as the comet strikes.
OK, so you might end up looking extremely foolish if this long-standing prophecy turns out to be untrue. But not as wretched as you'll feel if you continue with your mundane lives for the next three weeks and then suddenly the world ends. Your last thoughts will be of all those better things you could have been doing, indeed could be doing right now.