Thursday, 8 March 2012

If all else fails, Pray.

Still two more days of high tides to go. Nature is relentless and I cannot believe how calm I am. A couple of years ago I would have been crawling all over the walls and ceiling and lashing at anyone or anything in sight.

This afternoon, after today’s high water I went and inspected the damage. I have not been sleeping too well. I can hear when the waves start breaking over. From a distant swish the sound becomes a more insistent and longer drawn out woosh and I know I am being flooded again. I know that the cresting water has no way to roll back into the sea and drawn by gravity, must find an alternative route back to where it belongs. I agree it took millions of years to erode a barren wasteland into what is now the Grand Canyon but that was only rainwater over hard sediment. Imagine what the Atlantic Ocean can do to soft soil in only a few weeks.

Naturally, my neighbour bringing in some heavy plant and building a dyke to deflect the onslaught of the waves around his property and across mine instead has had a slightly exacerbating effect. My inspection of this afternoon revealed I have lost a quarter of my land as the deflected sea water runs in torrents to the river scouring topsoil away and the remaining two thirds is a lake. Where I once had a ramp to launch boats, I now have a tidal estuary. During the night, the tide will be high but tomorrow, it will top two metres above average. Even the once confident and dismissive locals (this happens every ten years, don’t worry) are coming to me and asking me to print off tide tables. For why? What are you going to do, shout at God and wave your printed forms and say the tide is higher than Google says it should be?

Whatever is going to happen will happen and there is sod all that we can do about it. Better to hunker down, hang on for the next few days (Saturday will be the last night) and then on Sunday, after Church, go and inspect the damage. Then, as a Community we can decide, according to need, what needs to be done.

Maybe God is related to Gordon Brown and I am being punished for not paying taxes these last twenty years but it is still no reason for me to run around like a headless chicken and beat myself to death against one of my few remaining palm trees or step into a new ravine to be swept out to sea and be devoured by sharks.

Out of the blue, I received two emails. One from a fellow blogger suggesting she might be able to find a donor to pay for the water filtration system for the village. Fresh, potable water forms about the most essential part of disaster recovery so the timing was excellent. Would that all agencies could react so quickly, the disaster hasn’t even played out yet but we already have a plan.

Now I realise that most of the village is built on higher ground so will ride all this out a little better than me and so long as my shop survives they will all be happy, because if it doesn’t, they’ll be back to boiling brackish water again and the under fives will be dying either from beasties in their guts or an overdose of salt. So this was a really cheery email and lifted my spirits enormously.

The second email, and I am typing fast as I can as I can hear the waves whooshing again, was from a dear friend of many years who told me that every time he responded to the Tyler’s Toast, he thought of me.

Then 'ere’s to the sons o' the Widow,
Wherever, 'owever they roam.
'Ere’s to all they desire, an' if they require
A speedy return to their 'ome.

A verse from the Tyler’s Toast

Just when you need a bit of a lift, two really inspiring emails.

A single drop of water is all a seed needs to germinate and I am grateful for the chance to have a crack at the water treatment plant (don’t want to say too much now in case I hex myself). Imagine the power of a single offer of assistence let alone the addition of an emotive reminder of a fraternity. So W. Bro. Paul:

Thanks to want me ‘ome,
I'd really like t’oblige,
I still owes a clinic see,
an’ a water treat aside.

The sea will smash us stupid,
an’ the kids’ll start to cry.
They’ll choke on salty water
An’ the crops’ll start to die.

Bastard waves will carve out bays,
And wives will start to wail
But fishiemen still need their pie
So it’s dooty to comply.

So please take a sip for me,
an’ enjoy yer festive board.
This Widow’s Son, and 'is mates,
need the prayers from all.

Four verses of shit from me. So what shall we call it? The lament for the fisherman who has to venture out in a dangerous sea to catch fish while his Missus is bailing out his house but if he does not go out his kids will starve? Not catchy enough.

According to these woefully inaccurate tide tables, it’ll all be over after Sunday Mass which will provide the priest, along with the best damp footed congregation he has ever enjoyed, further evidence of the power of the cloth. As he holds the Host up on high, the waters will miraculously recede allowing us to kneel on Terra Firma without drowning and as he says 'Corpus Christi'. we'll say 'Amen' and get our first bread snack in days.

Right now I am praying like mad and writing poetry. How can I still be so cynical?


  1. Karma! Mate, Karma! What comes round goes round!

  2. you ARE remarkably calm....bloody hell, and I have a rant about a bit of pig shit on my face...

    will the ground recover quickly Tom>?

  3. As fucking awful as your situation is Tom, you do help put our petty shit into perspective.

    Not much consolation when your belongings are being washed out to sea, but... are a trooper. Many lesser folk would have said 'sod it' and buggered off after the first flood. Faith.

    Saying that, at what point are you going to move onto your other bit of land higher up? Smart faith.

  4. Gorgeous day today. Sun shining, azure blue skies. Kids and families playing on the beach. We are just scaling a sodding great fish ready to throw on the barbeque and I have an ice cold G&T. Next high tide due in two hours so we'll have to eat fast or bin the shoes and roll up the trousers.

    Fuck it. Given the choice of falling over in pig shit on a Welsh hillside, I think I'll hang in here a bit longer.

    Last night was a bitch but, like I say, Sunday it is all over.

    Just been up to the other land to check the boundary fence. Clearly the contractors have never heard of a spirit level. Tossers.

  5. The Cynic and the Sea

    The cynic, he wanted a new life,
    Running a small hotel by the sea,
    He went at low tide
    When the beach was so wide
    “Yes, this is the place” he decreed!

    So the cynic he started aplanning,
    He promised a future of bliss.
    To his wife he said, “Trust
    in me, yes you must!”
    She replied, “Are you raking the piss?”

    So the cynic he started abuilding,
    And the sea smashed his labours to bits.
    Then he started to cry,
    And wished he would die,
    And to top it off he got the shits!

    Eventually the water retreated,
    And the cynic grew happy once more.
    He built a small shop,
    And planted a crop,
    But the sea crept right up on the shore.

    The sea once more battled the cynic,
    Who admitted “I have been a knob,
    But just ‘cause I can,
    I am punching a man,
    Who is doing an official job.”

    So the wife closed her legs to the cynic,
    And the cynic he sulked like a child,
    Then she forgave him,
    Well, she sort of enslaved him,
    But the sea grew increasingly wild.

    Every day the cynic is rebuilding,
    Every night the waves come rolling in,
    He’s a lazy arse,
    And the sea is so vast,
    So he knows that he’ll never win!

  6. Not many men, IG, that get to read their own obituary...


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