About two in the afternoon, the rain suddenly started to hammer on the tiny dormer window in the room where I work. I slammed it shut, and settled back to typing, deep in a poem which went to one of those strange places where the form kept trying to control the meaning, and I had to fight back as hard as I could. The hammering grew louder and louder – almost as if it was hail, although it wasn’t – and a thunderstorm passed overhead. After about ten minutes, it subsided, and I thought nothing more of it.
At half-past two, feeling the urge for my particular poison, Earl Grey and aspartame, I went downstairs. As I’ve mentioned before, our house is in a dip, at the lowest point of the village, so much so that there is no mobile phone reception, for which I give thanks. People who really want me can use the landline.
To my amazement, the floor of the lobby was under half an inch to an inch of water. An oddity of our house is that the lobby itself is not large, and to get out of it into the kitchen or into the main room, you have to take a step up. So this is not one of those disasters which have befallen the people of (say) Tewkesbury. It has happened here once before, when the downfall was more protracted. What seems to happen is that the force of the water coming down the hill blows the lid off a drain cover in the road, and the water, looking for somewhere to take refuge, nips across the road, swills over the edge, nips down the path, and comes under the front door.
You never expect these things. I was very lucky, in that I had loaded a rucksack full of stuff to take to work, but all of the important stuff was well above an inch – the gunk at the bottom of the bag caught it, as did a couple of notebooks. But otherwise, with one exception, everything was just plain wet – carpet sodden. The exception was the aforementioned mobile phone, which is about four years old. A night in the airing cupboard (‘give it a shot’ – the insurance company) has not revived it, so I am going to have to go and get a new one.
There are couple of tragedies about the phone. I think I can recover the numbers, but I think I’ve lost the last ever pictures of my mother (whose number was still redundantly listed). The other is (see blog postings last year), unless I am very lucky, I am about to make four chargers redundant, since I lost one, panicked, panicked again, pressed 2 instead of 1 on quantity, and then found the original. Maybe I will be fortunate and get a phone with big numbers, so that my fingers don’t press two at a time.
In the meanwhile, there is the sheer tedium of claiming, and the slow process of drying, and re-carpeting etc., as well as having to move everything out of the lobby, which means the house won’t be back to normal till, at a guess, late August. But I don’t live in Bangla Desh. That’s a cheap remark to make, but disasters in the UK are always petty, aren’t they?