In The Rain-Shadow Of The Pennines

We forget, don’t we, just how powerful nature is. In the western world where we work in air-conditioned offices and walk home through our usually temperate world, we forget exactly what the world can do to the tiny insignificant little mammals who walk the earth’s surface for three score years and ten if we’re lucky.

Today, in my office, everyone was moaning about the heat. Desk fans suddenly started appearing around the place like an invading force of white plastic windmills. It turned out our air conditioning is connected to our fire alarm system, so I suspect the windmills will begin to recede until the next fire drill.

I came home and did some work in my garden. It was 29°c with a bright blue sky above me, so I mowed the lawn, dug out my now-unbanned hosepipe and gave the plants a drink. As you do when you fiddle with a hosepipe, I got a bit wet and went inside laughing and turned the news on.

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And that’s when I saw Armageddon on my TV. And not in some far-off Pacific Rim city. There was a massive flood in my home town of Newcastle. In the rain-shadow of the Pennines, Newcastle is, ironically, one of the driest cities in Britain. I’ve heard from family and most of them are home safe, though I have one cousin who is trapped and can’t get home up to now (midnight). Luckily for her, she’s trapped in a pub and the roads are starting to reopen. I hope and pray that other people’s friends and families have been as lucky, though I know that not all will. The recovery will already be under way. Geordies are a hardy folk and will be getting back to normal routines very quickly. For some families, those routines will never be the same again. And for them, I send up a prayer.

When you get torrential floods in one of the nation’s driest cities, it’s either the end of days or time to take a long hard look at climate change and what we can do about it.

Hint: It’s not the end of days!

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