When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I greet it with a sigh, a shrug of the shoulders and a quiet sense of English resignation? Will I pour myself a drink, light myself a cigarette, and wish I still had a stash of something stronger from the bad old days – I miss big Es from the 90s, will I go on a mad hunt through my old coats to find some before remembering it would take the best part of an hour to kick in anyway?
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I waste those four minutes trying to google who actually pressed the button, trying to get to the bottom of the story, moaning, complaining about it and desperately finding someone to blame? Will I go out ranting and raving or with what little remains of my dignity? Will it matter whose fault it is?
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I run outside, gather all my pets together and try and get the whole family on some kind of multi-skype that may not even be possible on an already crashed communications network? Will you be there? Will you be working? Will you be held up by someone talking to you in the Spar? (I don't care where I live, or what the local convenience shop is called there, they are all Spar in my world, I haven't got time to remember which bastard multinational is running it at the moment, we're all about to die.) Will you even know that there has been a four minute warning? What delicious irony to have missed each other for want of a decent radio in your car.
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I desperately compose a farewell message to my scattered loved ones across the world, editing it to perfection only for it to die along with them, a gesture of little use, or point, at best solace for some seconds or, more likely, submerged in similar messages that nobody will have time to read.
Love to all my Twitter peeps, stay strong, see you on the flip side #Armageddon #FourMinuteWarning #Apocalypse #BitScaredActually— Dave Holwill (@daveholwill) September 15, 2017
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I be frantically moving my face around for the best light, flicking my hair and pouting my duck face trying to get that final, perfect, fear-ridden selfie for an instagram post that will only exist for seconds, and will never be remembered by the atomised brains or melted RAM cards of the surprisingly near future?
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I regret not spending enough time hunched over a laptop, agonising over these words that are briefly looked at, and possibly thought about, before the beholder maybe clicks like, perhaps writes a kindly comment or suggests I am an utter fuckwit with no idea what I am talking about, and then moves on, never to think of them again? Or the hours I didn't spend endlessly reworking plot points, and character details of mildly amusing novels that languish on bookshelves both tangible and digital, being saved for later? Or will I wish I had spent more evenings in pubs I hate, playing music I don't enjoy to people I don't respect? Will I regret the nights off in the pubs I do like when I stayed too long, and had too many with the people I like most, or the mornings I woke up clear headed from a sensible good night's sleep after a healthy night in? For a good night's sleep and a healthy body will be of no use to me now, and all work and no play makes Dave a dull boy.
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, will I miss the hours of walking, with dogs, with you, with complaining children, with explaining parents, with drunken friends, with misguided cats or with just the stars, a can of cider and a cigarette for company? Will it be the down times, sitting, doing nothing, thinking by fires – indoors and out, with books, with pets, with the kids, with friends, with family, but always with you, watching movies, reading books, listening to music, listening to you tell me about your day – maybe even paying attention to you telling me about your day?
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, which memories will I have time to replay? How much editing will I need to do? I hope it's true that it all goes by again, and I can see you singing to Miss Dynamite-ee-ee and forcing me to buy you vodka, laugh as you sing Firework in the kitchen before falling off your chair, see your face, in the Summer churchyard rain, glowing with excitement. Watch you and your dad approaching down the longest aisle in wedded history, see cute little kittens and puppies become old cantankerous, flatulent bastards and die in the wink of an eye, push the boy over his first skateboard ramp to rid him of the fear, leave the girl at uni for the first time, all of us fighting back the tears we did not expect to have, pretend not to worry – in the hopes that you would be less worried – over their first solo flights across the world all over again. The four of us will never again laugh like drains over some joke that wasn't that funny, but has rendered you unable to breath for minutes and damned the rest of us to the same fate. What if all I have time to remember is sitting in front of a screen, trying to think of the next word? What if there isn't time to remember the good bits? Why must the mundane take up so much more time than the magical?
When the four minute warning comes a knocking, what if you're at work, where you have no phone signal, and I never hear your voice again?
Inspired by Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and this most excellent Culture Shock song.