Monday, July 23, 2007

Man the pumps!

England’s second city, Birmingham, has recently been spending vast sums of money regenerating its canal-side areas.
These waterways, originally meant to shift raw materials like coal and metal ore from mine to warehouse to factory are naught like those you’d picture at mention of the word “canal”.
No gondolas, no Italian flavour, no architectural marvels and you’ll only hear mention of “Cornetto” is someone starts reading aloud the ice cream wrappers drifting downstream.
The council can shout their claim at the top of their lungs for as long as they want. Birmingham isn’t and never will be a “Venice of the North”.
Lower lying population centres, on the other hand, are quite a different matter.
Weeks of rain has left much of Central England underwater, in floods, the likes of which, have not been seen in generation.
Roads, MAJOR roads, are submerged, towns are completely cut off, whole caravan parks are floating down the Thames and the price of potatoes has gone up by 16%.
The horror.
I live in the Midlands, but I can be quite smug as I live on a hill……and I don’t eat potatoes.
My place of work is also on a hill, allowing me to sleep soundly knowing that months of artwork are not going to be a damp and soggy mess when I return to them the following day.
Unfortunately, said hills are not part of the same ridge, meaning I have to commute across an area of lowland.
Water likes lowland.
Now, I ride a scooter; a nimble little thing that can clock up a whopping 45mph (going downhill. Its usual speed is around 35. 30 if riding into a stiff breeze) and it’s great to bomb around on, so long as you stick to the quieter roads. I venture out onto anything larger and I have a tailback of 10 cars behind me in as many seconds, the death-merchants that drive them all willing the petrol tank to explode under my arse.
As I’d rather not test the psychic abilities of irate BMW and Landrover drivers, I make a point of taking back-water routes to and from work.
At least I do when said “back-water routes” aren’t living up to their name.
Last Friday it had been raining for at least 10 hours and to traverse my usual path home I’d have needed a Jet Ski, not a Honda Lead.
Forced onto the main roads I was slightly terrified to find that they were not in a much better state: I ploughed into 4 huge lakes spanning not only the tarmac but the farmland to either side, I was sprayed by huge trucks travelling in the opposite direction and, of course, I had the people of the tail-back willing brain-cancer on me.
Most unpleasant.
So, who can I blame for my discomfort? Who is to be held responsible for this random act of nature?
I guess I’ll just do what everyone else does and blame the government.
Can’t blame god, he might make things worse…..


Exmes said...

Blame Global warming. It never fights back, or you can claim whoever is responsible for flood control for not preparing to any and all possible natural disasters. Here in the US it is the Army Corps of Engineers who are generally responsible, and I'm sure there is something similar where you live.

Maybe you should buy a row boat and a trailer to pull it with. That seems like a reasonable precaution for something that hasn't happened even once before in who knows how many years. Plus it would look cool being dragged behind your Honda Lead.

rali said...

OMG, England is sinking!

Sorry to hear of your plight. I too live on high ground and missed out on two of the larges floods that hit my town in 2001 and 2004 by two blocks, but I also had to drive through the rising waters with my Geo Metro which everyone kept telling me was going to be carried away one of these days on my way to work... :P

Tony said...

That's funny. Y'know, where I live, it's been raining a tad ourselves. Even our own major streets have flooded at least ten times this year. It even floods the drains, which is how the streets become flooded.

Tim said...

I feel for you man. (I live on a hill too) But, I've gotta commute on the subway (or underground as you guys in England say it) to get to work. So if the transit authority isn't on it's game, the pumps will fail and the tracks will, flood and service will ultimately be suspended.

I hope you guys are okay there with all that flooding. Mother nature's revenge on us for all the crap we do to the Earth, I guess.

Himax said...

Ouch, we feel for you.
Regardless of what happens, we wish you the best of luck with your future commutes.
Hang in there.

EOCostello said...

The late Carl Giles, being something of a gentleman farmer himself, used to do any number of flood cartoons; I have his annuals going back to the first one (covering the last bit of the War), including the ones for the 1947 floods. I wonder how his comic exaggerations stack up against your current reality.