Look up to the sky: is it raining? No? Then it’s about to rain. Yes, storm Christof is upon us (who chooses these names, and why? I know they’re going through the alphabet alternating male and female names but why Christoph? It reminds me of the creepy director in The Truman Show.) If you have flooding I sympathise; we are not affected here but I have in the past sat and worked out what it would take to flood this house. The park over the road is low-lying and often reduced (or increased) to a swamp with streams running where joggers once ran, so in theory the water only has to cross the road for it to be knocking on our door. But under the road there’s an underpass so that would have to be filled right to the top first, so I guess it’d take a while.
I can’t imagine anything worse than being flooded out of your house in the middle of winter, losing furniture and carpets and just drying out in time for the next lot of floods, not to mention being denied insurance cover. It’s horrid, and all the more reason for us to strain every sinew to halt and reverse climate change. I go round this house turning radiators off (I would turn the heating off but we have an elderly person in residence) and I’m thankful that in the current situation we are not damaging the planet at the usual rate.
A propos of which OH and I have been greatly enjoying David Attenborough’s latest offering, ‘Perfect Planet.’ I’d gone off watching him because so much of his work was – quite rightly – dedicated to showing the damage we are doing to the earth, and it made me feel sick at heart. When I see images of a deformed turtle unable to grow because it got caught in one of those plastic rings we use just to keep cans together – just something convenient, not even fulfilling a need! – I feel deeply ashamed to be human.
But Perfect Planet is not like that; it’s a global sweep focussing each week on a different aspect of life on earth; volcanoes, oceans, the sun, and so on, and showing how different species survive under these conditions. Global warming is there but in the background, as it were, so it’s a much more heartening series to watch.
Shee-eesh, but it’s cold! Those of you reading this in less temperate climes than the UK may scoff but it was below freezing last night and this morning a clammy cold pervades the atmosphere; the sort of cold that reaches into your bones and which any sane person would stay in bed to avoid. Normally by this point I’d have turned off the radiator in my room but not only is it on full-blast, I also have the halogen heater wafting warmth in all directions. It’s definitely time to put up the plastic double-glazing.
See, it’s not just the cold that makes us run for cover, it’s the damp. Dry cold I can deal with; wet warmth I can deal with – but damp cold is the worst of all worlds, and we have it in abundance here in the UK. Still before I complain too much let us spare a thought for those flooded out of their homes – and another, deeper thought for those who have no homes, flooded or otherwise.
I’ve begun to wonder how safe we are here in Loughborough. It’s a fairly low-lying town and the drains get blocked at the best of times; the park over the road is regularly turned into a swamp with rivers running through and although the council have taken the excellent measure of planting absorbent plants in specially absorbent soil next to the stream, I can’t help wondering how effective they will be in the long term. I imagine it: first the underpass will fill up (it’s already six inches deep) then the footways will become impassable, threatening the leisure centre; then the park will become a pond and finally the water will creep over the road and start on us.
The frightening thing is that once it starts there’s little or nothing you can do. Water is one of the most pervasive elements on earth, and potentially one of the most destructive – which is why we all need to do what we can right now. And I suggest the first thing would be to elect a government which takes the climate emergency seriously – which is not one led by Boris Johnson.
All of which makes my word of the week look a bit trivial. Applied by The Guardian to Jenifer Arcuri, it’s ‘sublebrity‘, someone ‘famous for being famous.’
A much-needed word, I suspect.
Yes, folks – the weather is so serious that it has necessitated a Topical Insert on the Archers! You can’t get more serious than that… seriously, though, I am trying to spare thoughts for those who are flooded out. I can’t begin to imagine how miserable that is, especially with little hope of improvement in the immediate future. It has also brought out some vitriol on social media about the pros and cons of climate change. Yes, there are still some deniers out there, although most people now accept that man-made climate change is a reality – or at the very least, a strong and serious probability. My own view is this: though we may never be able to be 100% certain as to the causes, while we are continuing to do things that could contribute to it – and logically ought to contribute to it, such as deforestation, burning fossil fuels etc – we ought to take it seriously and stop doing those things as far as possible. That’s a fairly moderate view, I’d have thought, but you wouldn’t believe the vitriol some people are capable of when ‘discussing’ the issue. So I’ve reached a decision. Lent’s coming up – and since I don’t overindulge in many things, I’ve decided to leave the chocolates and alcohol to take care of themselves; and for this year, I’m giving up Bad News.
Yep, that’s right: bad news. There’s far too much of it out there. It’s not only Facebook, it’s the mainstream media as well who focus on the negative whilst giving any positive news short shrift. I don’t know why this should be, but it gives us a very skewed version of the world. Every Third-World country is overrun by corruption and famine; every housing estate is sunk in crime and unemployment; every marriage is on the verge of break-up; every film-star is dysfunctional – and so on.
So for the duration of Lent, which starts on March 5th, I will be swearing off mainstream news, de-activating my Facebook account and using the radio only for music.
You have been warned!
Oh, and I almost forgot – yesterday my review of the short story collection ‘Ideas Above our Station’ was published by Thresholds;
Now back to the weather…