Almost exactly twenty-five years ago a weatherman on good old BBC TV announced that rumours of a hurricane in the south of England were greatly exaggerated.
Next morning the country awoke to news reports of fallen trees, blocked roads, crushed cars, buildings in ruins, roofs blown off houses... you get the picture.
The high winds continued all day. In the afternoon in my own little part of the country, which isn’t even the south, a huge tree nearly four hundred years old blew down and crushed a building at the local secondary school (you’d call it high school, but that means something different over here), and some kids had vacated the place only a few minutes earlier; I went through a tense few minutes between hearing the news and seeing my own eleven-year-old daughter walk up the path to our front door.
Then far fewer years ago, 2007 I think, we got the floods. Rivers overflowed; the middle of the country was under water for a week; at least two small towns were devastated and are still recovering; a good friend watched her car slide off the edge of a collapsing road and sink to the bottom of a lake.
Those two occasions are probably the only ones in my lifetime that the UK will come close to what New Jersey and New York went through on Monday night. While I don’t pretend to feel what you’re feeling, or even to appreciate a fraction of it, I can sympathize, and to a small degree empathize as well.
Here I am, four thousand miles away, in the safety of my fairly robust single-storey office with its rain-spotted windows through which the only visible weather is a lot of low cloud and a few tumbling leaves. So while I don’t think I shall rest entirely easy until I know my friends over there in the thick of it, and my cousin in the blizzards assailing Maryland and Virginia, are safe and well, I can take a pace back and be a little philosophical.
The thoughts running around my head range from maybe now the global warming sceptics will be a little less scathing about the power of nature to kick back when she’s abused, through to if it was me in that situation, what, aside from family and friends, would I be moving to a safe height to ensure its survival?
In fact, this morning as I mused over what to post about today, this last idea came out on top.
But you know what? What Marilyn said on Saturday was bang on the money. Somehow I can’t make light of it, take a less serious view. Because scary is what it is. Especially if global warming (about which I am definitely not sceptical) means this is the shape of things to come.
So I think I’ll leave it there, and go back to sending positive thoughts and energy winging their way across the Atlantic.
Hang in there, guys.