I feel sorry for the thousands of people who have travelled to Bournemouth to witness the four-day Bournemouth Air Festival, which started today.
I also feel sorry for the organisers.
Because, this morning, we all woke up to gloomy skies and intermittent heavy rain that had gone on through the night, giving way to thunderous downpours by mid morning.
By late morning, photos and reports of flash floods began to surface on the Internet.
Wimborne Road in Winton, just minutes drive away from us.
I was happily oblivious to the damage caused by the very same weather that had kept me in bed till 11 am.
It’s not very often you see heavy rain in England, much less thunder and lightning. The rain in England is often so misty fine it’s actually fun to walk out in the rain.
There was thunder and lightning a couple of weeks back and Piers was so impressed, acting like he’d never witnessed anything like that in his life. He was envious of me two months ago when I was in Singapore and we were having thunderstorms every night.
Anyway this morning, I took the opportunity to enjoy sleeping in while heavy rain drummed soothingly against our windows and rooftop. By the time I forced myself up at 11 am, I had been sleeping for almost 11 hours.
Here’s an MSN conversation I had with Piers immediately after I got up. (Has been edited for brevity.)
For half a year now, Piers and I have enjoyed making fun of each other’s cultures and countries, in a good-humoured way, of course.
One recurring thread in our banter involves the River Bourne, a river in Dorset which flows into the English Channel at Bournemouth, thus giving the town its name.
The nearest segment of the River Bourne to us is five minutes’ walk away and Piers showed it to me when I first came to England in February.
My first comment was, “That’s a drain!”
To which he replied, “No need to make fun of our river.”
I couldn’t help it. You would have reacted the same way as I did.
This is the River Bourne:
To be fair, the river widens considerably in some parts:
Here, it looks almost decent:
I took all these photos in March this year. Why am I showing you them?
Because, today, thanks to the rain, the River Bourne finally looks like a river.
Piers showed me this flood photo and we had another MSN conversation.
So, it really is quite serious, the flooding in Bournemouth. Even as I’m typing this now, news on TV is reporting the damage and online news reports are popping up everywhere.
People got stranded, the ceiling of Bournemouth Nuffield Hospital collapsed and patients had to be evacuated, businesses closed down, roads were closed, and part of the Bournemouth Beach got washed away by overflowing sewage and floodwaters.
Photo from BBC News. More photos here.
I’m relatively unaffected because our apartment is on a hill, sort of. Piers might be affected when driving home from work tonight because of all the flooded roads and road closures.
But the town as a whole is certainly affected. Piers had been looking forward to the Bournemouth Air Festival and had even thought about coming home during lunch so we could walk to the beach together to look at the air shows.
Shows were cancelled today while the rain continued to pour.
Which prompted a smart alec to respond thus:
Quite funny, I suppose.
But seriously, I do feel sorry for the organisers and fans of the air show.
On the other hand, this will cause a significant number of people to cancel their plans to travel here for the show and it will be less scary for us as a result. In 2009, the show attracted 1.3 million spectators over four days. I couldn’t find the numbers for 2010.
I don’t want to jostle with a million people on the beach when I go see the air show and fireworks display tomorrow night.
During summer every year in Bournemouth (and neighbouring Poole), beach-goers are treated to fireworks displays every Friday (and Thursday) night. I’ve been meaning to see one but always put it off because I’d get lazy at the last minute, thinking I can do it next week.
The cold summer nights in Bournemouth are a deterrent to me.
I’ve been told this summer cold in England is not normal.
But the world hasn’t been normal in the last couple of years, has it? Uncharacteristic weather conditions all over the world, tsunamis everywhere, Japan’s earthquake and nuclear fallout, London riots and, closer to home, the unprecedented four-way presidential battle in Singapore.
No, I don’t think the world is going to end next year.
But I can’t say I’m not worried and wondering. What’s happening to our world?