Sunday, 27 October 2013

Will this wind.....?

So here I am, sitting here on a Sunday night, checking the net, looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow....

The biggest storm for decades is on its way, so we checked the allotment over, covered the chicken house roofs with tarpauline and bricks and put bags of compost on the bottom shelves of the mini greenhouses.  I've found my thermal leggings and a thick jumper ready for tomorrow morning, and have a nice pot of venison chasseur simmering in the kitchen.  The doors and windows are shut, lanterns have tea lights and boxes of matches next to them, and the camping stove and wind up radio have been brought back from the shed.

And all is quiet.

It is more or less 26 years to the day since the legendary hurricane, now demoted to a "Great Storm".  I remember that well.  I was living in a flat in Finchley at the time, and was woken by the sound of ornaments moving on the windowsill.  Next thing I knew, a tree branch had forced open the doors to the balcony in the lounge.  I removed the ornaments to a safe place, closed the balcony doors and taped then shut with parcel tape and went back to bed.

There were no tube trains running in the morning, so I got a 13 bus to work.  At the time I worked in Cavendish Square, so my journey took me past the fancier end of Oxford Street.  The shops were starting to get their Christmas displays up, and I remember most of all John Lewis had a line of trees, which had toppled onto each other, like a line of dominos.  It turned out I had the easiest journey in, as most train lines had been blocked, and power was out for much of the tube network.  What had seemed to me as a bit of a disruption was far more serious.  Much of the south coast was devastated, especially woodland.  But we all dusted ourselves down and got on with things.

Today, we have mass panic, with train companies shutting down before anything has happened.  It's almost as though there's an unspoken permission to get over dramatic.  No "let's see how things pan out" - no shut down and if nothing happens say it was safer that way.  My local service is unlikely to be running until after the rush hour, yet I'll still be expected to get in to work before 9am.  Just hope the Piccadilly line manages to pull out the stops as usual.  Mind you, it could be pretty bad.  The cat has refused to leave the house all day.

The reason I remember 1987 so well was that the night before, I had been to see a band play that I never expected to see in London - The Chesterfield Kings.  Rochester, New York's finest exponents of crazed garage punk played Dingwalls.  This was in the days when even for big name bands at clubs, you just turned up on the night and queued.  I was in the first dozen or so, under the awnings on the ticket booth.  Some of the more dandified Sixties music fans arrived later and joined the queue as it snaked around the open yard.  And then a mighty downpour hit, and all those carefully blow dried Brian Jones bowl cuts got well and truly soaked.  Meanwhile, I made my way indoors and looked to see who was around.  Most of the usual suspects from those days were already propping up the bar, plus the band and their entourage, including someone who to all the world looked like Dee Dee Ramone.  Getting up my nerve and putting my music journo boots on, I introduced myself to the band. They in turn introduced me to Dee Dee Ramone - for it was he.

It was a fantastic, manic gig, with singer Greg Prevost almost bringing the house, or at least the water pipes above the stage, down, and Dee Dee joined them for the encore.  After the show, the band asked me (and a few other long term UK fans) if I'd like to come on the rest of the European tour with them.  Sadly, even then I had a day job that would not allow me to just take my passport and go off on a jolly, but thanks to the same wonders of modern communication that are leading to mass panic about a bit of a downpour, I have discovered from Greg that the night the hurricane hit, they were in the middle of the Channel, on a ferry bound for France.  He said it was the most seasick he'd ever been.

So at least having a boring day job spared me the worst boat trip ever.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Hope that your home and allotment have escaped unscathed. Here in the north west we have been fortunate as we were in 1987. Just a very wet night.
Not sure whether the railways companies can always get it right especially as such weather conditions can not be pinpointed with complete accuracy.