|Flooding at Iford Bridge, Christchurch, Dorset.|
Okay it cost us three fence panels and a new broadband hub but aside from some sleepless moments and three power cuts the storms that have raged across the country on and off most of the last fortnight haven't caused us any physical harm.
Watching the tv coverage though has been weather porn. We love the weather in this country, come run or shine we have something to moan about and even the slightest change during a single hour can produce enough material for a series of 'water cooler' moments.
A couple of highlights. Sky TV reporter at Barmouth who just as the link from the studio cuts in is soaked by a wave from the sea crashing over the sea wall and then has to spend the next five minutes trying hard not to spit out the mouthful of sea water he is trying equally hard not to swallow. We've become used to reporters becoming embedded in war zones over the last forty years or so but sending intrepid reporters out to 'feel the pain' of those suffering the impact of storm after storm is a relatively new phenomenon. Soldiers used to say that they knew the moment things were getting really grim because Kate Adie would suddenly appear in hard hat and fatigues, now you can judge the severity of the weather by the presence of a news reporter.
There was much excitement locally when both Sky and BBC pitched up to shoot the flooding of a caravan park on the River Stour where it forms a natural boundary between Christchurch and Bournemouth. Sky only sent a cameraman but BBC sent out South Today's own Steve Humphries, a man much used to reporting from within the Southampton city boundaries. As a picture of the swollen river appeared on the screen with the word 'Christchurch' in the top right hand corner Nathalie shouted "Wahooy - Christchurch on the tele!"
Now prior to his dispatching from Southampton Mr Humphries must have been called to his editors office and reminded of the BBC guidelines when searching for and interviewing residents of places which aren't quite used to 'our city ways'. "Remember Editorial Guideline 15a paragraph C' the editor must have said, 'If at all possible try to find somebody who speaks clearly, doesn't sound too stupid and who will illicit from our viewers the right amount of sympathy."
Steve Humphries had clearly taken this to heart because as the camera slowly panned left to right from his windswept fizzog, across the river to the two 'residents' of the flooded caravan park there was a sharp intake of breath from more than one viewer. The atypical residents of this site were a black guy wearing a rasta beanie and a woman with a Canadian accent! The guy explained that he had just flown in from Sudan the night before and that whilst this wasn't ideal it was better than being shot at - the Canadian woman was apparently a relief worker who had also been in Sudan the day before. Christchurch residents? Pah!
Actually there was a huge sense of relief because all locals know that the site in question isn't in Christchurch at all it's on the Bournemouth side of the river, but that made it worse, why weren't the two interviewees speaking with Polish accents like most of that towns 'locals'.
There was actually a more serious angle to this story that sadly none of the national news agencies took up, probably due to the lack of time rather than any luck of interest. The residents of the site were told in the late summer last year that they will have to move out of their homes this year because the owner has activated a clause that allows him to sell the land to a housing developer, what the weather did was present a lose-lose situation to all involved, after all who would want to build on land that has had national coverage for being flooded so quickly and easily that people had to escape through windows to save themselves from drowning?
* Having admired Span's ability to produce post titles starting with the letter 'O' for many years I thought I would try, in 2014, to use musical references - hence an Abba song, a Lydon quote and today the title of track 5 on side one of Scott 3. Scott Walker's 3rd solo album released in March 1969. I'll probably get bored by around the middle of the month but it's a mental exercise as much as a sign of pretention.