Some of you may have heard that we had a bit of a high tide over night or as the press like to call it ‘devastating flooding’. There are several things that one can learn from observing the reactions to this weather and I’m always up for sharing observations as you know.
There was an outpouring of anger from people on public transport that the UK “falls to bits at the first sign of weather” and the normal complaint “why can’t we be more like other countries”. This stems from a couple of English traits, the first is that we are self-effacing and the second is that we have a death wish. We can’t comment on the fact that in the UK we wouldn’t think of having the day off because of something daft like 100 MPH + winds because we are too hard-working, oh no. Highest tide for 60 years and severe flood warnings (that is defined as significant risk to life by the way) “pass my umbrella the stationary order wont write itself”. The truth is that we are all mad, when I speak to friends in the US they can’t understand us because they have been brought up to stay home unless it’s essential, hence less traffic, hence less chaos. So yes other countries are better prepared but only because they stay at home and don’t race to the office like lemmings shouting “it’s only rain”.
Then there is the bizarre need to punish ourselves at every opportunity for the fact that hundreds of years ago we may have had a bit of a colony. This was seen in the press, or rather the uniquely English press. Yesterday they filled the airwaves with dire warnings, evacuation plans and pictures of the 1953 floods captioned “it will be worse than this”. Well at 3 am I kinda wanted to know whether boots were appropriate for the trip home or whether I needed a boat. Where did I turn? why to our most hated public service broadcaster, funded by a punitive tax to provide this type of information. The television was on from 3 am to 4 am and I learnt nothing, except that Africans dance a lot when somebody they like dies. Mandela died at 9pm UK time, I know this because they stopped all television to alert us to the fact that an old man who has been trying to die for some time had finally achieved it. Don’t misunderstand me I am sure that this is a very important thing to a lot of people but showing it for an hour on the main news channel won’t change it, showing my personal possessions floating down the street would have changed my travel plans!
I have never seen an entire hour of the news devoted to a single subject and certainly one that is not active. A death is a single event it is not a fire or a flood it doesn’t develop and so it is not suited to extended news coverage. The reporters seemed intent on showing dancing Africans, state visits and well frankly anybody that had ever shaken the mans hand. We got such brilliant insights as “the family were summoned to the hospital and we thought something was wrong” he was terminally ill not bloody pregnant, what did you think had happened? I also heard a reporter honestly say “Although he had gone to the hospital to live out his last days we still didn’t think he would die” I hope that fella doesn’t get a pet or he will need counselling, in the entire history of the human race death has always been a certainty. But the problem is that it involves the whole South Africa thing, former colony and all that so we have to go mad.
Of course the real heroes of these acts of nature are the health and safety loons, no I got that all wrong didn’t I? Once again the magic red and white tape has filled in any gaps in common sense that may exist. So far my favourite is the application of a robust line of said tape across the entrance to a flooded pier. Now you can spot a pier, it is a wooden or concrete structure that extends out into the ocean but remains above the tide and dry. It’s a pretty simple concept and that means it is fairly easy to spot a problem with it. When you cannot see the pier because of water something is wrong, a bit like if you see a horse laying on its back with its feet in the air, that’s not going to be your ride home. All along the promenade people are wise enough to realise that they cannot simply step out into the ocean, but what if they mistakenly walk onto the pier and its flooded? I guess it’s easy to make that mistake when you are out for a stroll along a pier at midnight in a vicious storm but don’t fear, the health and safety tape will save the day.
Finally there is my favourite observation, coastal residents are a mad breed, hardy but mad. So when the emergency services are rescuing cats and workers are out shifting felled trees what do those nearest the ocean do? these are the people in those severe flood warning zones remember. I will tell you what they do, they go the beach and watch, you may see floods and storms and the almighty power of nature but we see the ocean and well it’s just there isn’t it? it’s a friend, a comforter and it’s what listens to our dreams, worries and secrets it wouldn’t turn on us would it? Of course not, now if it was in the tourist season that would be a different matter because come on, we all get annoyed with them sometimes don’t we?
For those that are not in the UK or don’t live by the coast the photographs below should give a little context.