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The weather forecast had already warned us of storms crossing Britain late into the night. As luck would have it, I was on a late shift, and that meant walking home during the period when I was most likely to be drenched in minutes or used by nature to light the vicinity when hit by lightning. There was every risk of both, and to be honest, I’ve always had a policy of avoiding such weather conditions by the clever use of indoors. Not last night then. One colleague at work told me that storms were already crossing France and would be here in two hours. Really? That would require winds in excess of gale force. There was barely a breeze and whilst thirty odd degrees centigrade isn’t hot by some standards around the globe, for Britain it was sweltering. In any case the winds weren’t from France, but the Atlantic southwest, as usual. Damp air then. Perfect for the odd electrical storm. I have to say working to very high targets in that sort of humid temperature was not for the faint hearted. By the close of shift, I was, as they say, ker-nackered. So. Time to go home. Almost as soon as I left the premises the display started. Around the sky flickers of light went off almost continuously, an extraordinary sight and one I found quite weird given not a rumble of thunder could be heard. I could see the mass of storm cells encroaching on Swindon. Sooner or later the rain would start. I wonder? Could I make it to the McDonalds outlet about halfway home without incurring a sudden outbreak of dampness? It worked. I made it to the rest stop barely seconds before the first cloudburst opened up. Perfect. Fast food, dry shelter, and bewildered staff to impress with my knowledge of storms. “Ahh” Said one McDonald droid, “it’s stopped. I can go home now.” You think? I’m staying here for another hour yet. He chuckled and headed for the door only to be greeted with a huge fork of lightning over the area. Your move mate. Cunning Move Whilst I was walking to McDonalds I spotted a fox on the other side of the road. Normally at that distance they either don’t care, or find a more discreet place to be. This one simply hunkered down. I know mate, it is warm isn’t it? Howls Of Badgers Badgers are the quietest of animals. They snuffle around, usually looking happy as Larry, but a week or two ago I encountered one on a footpath going home. Badgers aren’t the most alert of creatures. I’ve often walked very close to them before they realised I was there, but always they scarper, and scarper quickly they can. This one saw me coming and hooted very loudly. Wow. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a badger. A born sergeant major that one. Big Beetles On the outskirts of an industrial estate I saw movement on the road, again lat at night. This was a black beetle, alarmingly huge. Two or three inches long, much larger than anything I’ve seen plodding around British countryside. This one was not only large, but fast too, scurrying around like demon possessed. A foreign import off a lorry? We don’t usually get beetles like that outside of zoos. Boris Of The Week This week’s star prize goes to our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who takes over from Theresa May today. There’s a sort of inevitable aspect to his new found glory. Can he sort out the mess and get a deal on Brexit past the hordes of British MP’s determined to frustrate the British public’s decision to leave Europe? The battlefield is the same as it’s been for three years and cost May her job. Who knows, perhaps the outsize beetle was an omen. Perhaps the gods welcomed Boris with a spectacular lightning display. Somehow I doubt he got rained on last night.
Yesterday marks the point at which I truly became a rock star. Not because of millions of pounds in the bank, wild celeb parties in exotic locations, records in the charts, or thousands upon thousands of doting fans - nope, none of those which I freely admit aren't exactly part of my life experience - it's because yesterday I got recognised by a newer generation for my music. You have to ask how they stumbled across it, I mean, I was never a big draw back then, something like twenty five years ago, or since, and record sales were not making any impression on the public even in the days when we went out gigging to sell them. But they were, a group of kids who weren't even born when I gave up performing publicly, exercising their right to poor scorn upon my musical efforts. Hey, that's fame, you don't get the praise without the criticism. What shall I do with me new found fame, I wonder? I know, I'll tell more people about it. I think that's what you're supposed to do.... Can't remember.... Big Bad And Bursting In I don't relish the chances of those Russians stationed on the far northern island of Svalbard right now. It seems that hungry polar bears, denied their natural habitat of pack ice, have done what bears end up doing everywhere else in the world and have started persuading the human beings nearby to stump a choice meal or two. The Russians are besieged in a none too friendly situation, and worse still, the young polar bears are learning that humans are weedy creatures who have lots of food to steal. A sleigh dog or too has already been eaten. I remember not too long ago a documentary about putting animals back in the wild. There are benefits to letting carnivores loose - it restores a natural balance and eventually leads to a more fertile and varied environment. Except bears. Put bears back in the wild and the first thing they do, not knowing where to find food, is to seek out human settlements where they almost instinctively know they can scavenge from. Like they do anyway. I wish those Russians on Svalbard well and hope they don't run out of flare cartridges too soon. Trip Home OF The Week It's a long walk home from work, so imagine my despair when the storm started an hour before I finished in the afternoon. It really did lash down intermittently. It was well humid too, almost tropical, and although not so hot as holiday destinations it was still well warm for a British September. Some of the lads in the changing room exchanged a few wry jokes about me having to walk in the torrential rain. Oh how they laughed, but as usual, I had come prepared. Not only that, I knew full well that the storms were in a line passing over the factory. A little south, where I was headed, it was bright and sunny. So not only did I manage to walk home, I didn't get soaked either. Result. Just one small point though.... Usually a colleague stops to offer a lift in his snazzy non-Honda. On that particular day, he drove right past me. Okay. I can deal with that.