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Monday, 25 June 2007

"And the rain fell upon the Earth for Forty Days and Forty Nights"...

The guard on the 14.38 Leeds to Hull Transpennine Express is delighted "This IS the delayed 14.38 from Leeds to Hull, and we ARE running approximately 35 minutes late. We will probably experience further delays on this journey". The speaker goes silent, briefly, then pings back to life "Transpennine Express apologise for any inconvenience these delays may cause you in[sic] your journey"Mr Smug continues, obviously delighted, "These delays are caused by serious weather conditions". Silence, then another ping "Transpennine Express are pleased to get you to your destination today, even if delayed. Most other train operators have had to cancel services. Thank you." .........."Howden is your next station Stop. That's Howden, your next station Stop".

Mr Smug keeps this up all the way to Hull, each time with a different variation on the theme, and with increasingly lengthy descriptions of the weather. I suppose I cannot blame him, usually the guards are trying to explain their lateness with bewildering and ornate excuses: Saturday's delay for example was explained as "due to theft of signalling cable in the Doncaster area".

Transpennine Express are cock-a-hoop. After a month of nearly continuous rain across Eastern and Northern England, transportation systems are in chaos. Torrential rain has washed away river banks, flooded cities, closed roads and, of course delayed trains. The consequence of this is that Transpennine now have an 'out'. Today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, "while repairs are being undertook" [again, sic], TP can be as late as they want, forget to turn up, don't bother even starting out, break down, smell, be dirty, use terrible English, and bombard us with useless statistics - all traits that I, a regular traveller recognize as Standard Operating Procedure for TP - but now there's nothing I, or any of the other regulars can do about it because the floods have given them an excuse, and the clean up could take months. I can imagine plans are afoot in the Transpennine Boardroom to increase carbon emissions as quickly as possible in order to encourage more freak weather patterns.

I get back to Hull, and Nel and I set out to survey the local area. I know we should be helping elderly people cross the road, and inflating our dingy to launch daredevil rescues, but there's plenty of police sirens and ambulance klaxons hooting, the emergency services are obvioulsy on the job, so we decide to have a laugh and get wet. We took some pictures.

The Great Flood of 07

The neighbourhood cats are thoroughly pissed off with all this wetness, but as we wander the streets there's that usual camaraderie that only finds expression in modern urban humans in events of this type - troublesome, but not too disastrous. I am reminded of the Great Ontario Brown Outs of 04, when the Tim Hortons on the junction of Adelaide and Huron was the only place in the neighbourhood to have hydro. To retain status as a Troublesome Event, there needs to be some conditions, of course, conditions which stop the thing evolving into a Disaster. These conditions include that everyone gets to leave work early and have an extra day off the next day "clleaning up". Several friends who live in 2nd and 3rd floor apartments hope to qualify for this condition. Another condition is that although some deaths are allowed, there can not be too many, and the tragedy must not affect anyone important, like a footballer, politician or entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs however are allowed to loose their business, or get flooded out completely, as long as they vow to "carry on". Several animals must be rescued, preferably horses, or dogs. And most importantly of all, the men of the neighbourhood must be sufficiently inconvenienced (had to get feet wet leaving car), but not overly occupied by the Troublesome Event to have the time to gather in the street and discuss knowledgeably, and completely inaccurately, (in the case of a flood) the depth of flooding, extent of flooding, cost of water damage repair and whether the water they're standing in contains any vectors for Weil's Disease or just regular sewage.

I'm going to have my dinner, then rush out and join the rest of the men.

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