I remember driving through London in my Dad's car (a winter's evening with the street lights winking on) and seeing a poster which said JESUS IS COMING BACK. And underneath was the date 197* with a trompe l'oeil paper fold obscuring the final digit.
When I was seven or eight some religious group announced that the world would be flooded at mid-day. There I was, eating my school dinner- I visualize it as fatty roundels of lamb with boiled potatoes and cold beetroot- waiting for the mile-high wall of water to show up on the horizon. I was going to survive of course. I would grab hold of Ainsley Smart and the two of us would swim until we found land and live out the rest of our lives as a pair of Crusoes. What fun it was going to be!
And all through my adolescence and young manhood there was the threat of nuclear annihilation.
Now we favour meteorites and global warming and super volcanoes and Al Quaeda.
While the true believers still count on Jesus. And this time there's no mistaking the signs...