It started with an email from Mrs P: “Do you want the good news or the bad news? Bad news — a slate has blown off the roof. Good news — it missed the cars parked underneath it. Bad news — the telly in the living room has blown up. Good news — you might now get one of those flat screen, HD ready jobbies you’ve been hankering after.”
I was sitting in an office in deepest, darkest Cheshire at the time having battled against storm force winds walking from the car park. The meeting I was there for started and as we spoke, the lights flickered as the power was affected by the weather, then his computer screen blinked to black. The odd thing was that the person I was seeing continued chatting as if this was an everyday occurrence, which for all I know it may have been.
Then my mobile rang and fortunately I took the call instead of turning it off as I usually do when in meetings. It was the office. “They’s evacuating the building, so we’re all going home. The wind is threatening to bring the tall cranes they’re using across the road down on top of us.”
Oh well, cancel the planned return to the office and home early for a change, I thought. Hah! The roads in Cheshire can be pretty narrow, even the A-roads so the first bit of excitement was in trying get out of the way as fire engine came bombing up behind me, all blues and twos. A few minutes later it was belting back the other, presumably having decided they weren’t needed at the scene of an accident — a van that had ended up in the hedgerow and two rather dented cars.
A little further on, the road was closed and coned off with a left turn the only alternative. This led to a really, really narrow road with room for just one car in most parts and no pull-in-to-pass places, but I put my faith in Tom Tom that had recalculated my route and insisted I was going the right way. I was and finally made it back to the main road, albeit at the end of a long queue.
I made it to the M6 and was doing okay, despite the 20mph warnings that seemed to be universal on the motorways today when the traffic bagan to slow. An artic had taken a tumble in the wind and had blocked off all but the inside lane. We began to move again with me nervous at overtaking anything taller than a Honda Civic.
The warning signs told that the M6 was closed at juntion 20, but I persevered knowing that I was leaving at exit 19 which I did only to run into more creeping traffic on the dual-carriageway that links the M6 to the M56. The reason became clear after a few excrutiating miles — a rather large tree strewn across our path, blocking both lanes. And it hadn’t been dragged up from its soggy roots after all the recent rain. The thing had sheered about six to ten feet from the ground from the force of the wind.
The M56 into Manchester was solid with traffic, but I negotiated the always conjested link road to the M60 in about the usual time, finally landing home two hours after setting off on what should have been a 45 minute journey.
But I was lucky. Mrs P’s choir night was cancelled because the organisers were stuck on Deansgate, as they had been since 5 o’clock and five people have died as a result of the gales, one not far from where I live.
All in all, making it back to hearth and home in one piece is a result. Still no telly in the living room though*.
* Not sure I can blame the weather for this. Just a crap telly really.