The first tentative drops of rain, a precursor to the on rushing Hurricane Ophelia, tip-tapped on my window pane as I bushed my teeth this morning, and I reconsidered my choice of coat. It is unseasonably warm in the mouth of this behemoth, but I’m Irish, it rains a lot, we always prepare for the day ahead coat wise.
In the car I watched cyclists and motor-cyclists clearly ignore the strong advice of ‘not to travel by bike’ that has been issued over the last couple of days. Schools and colleges are closed, hospital outpatient appointments cancelled along with air, bus and train services on some routes. We are being warned in the strongest possible terms not to take this storm lightly.
Now this is where this little island runs into trouble. Taking things lightly is a national past time. We can be serious when we want to, but in general we can’t help ourselves. To be fair, we get a lot of wind and rain anyway so we tend to build and organise accordingly. But this is a hurricane the likes of which we are told, hasn’t hit our shores in 56 years. I have never seen such strong warnings in all my life. Hopefully damage will be limited although inevitably not everyone will escape. Some people will have their house damaged in the storm, trees will fall and hopefully no one gets seriously injured or worse. There are far worse things that can befall us in life than a bit of wind.
It only takes a moment for someone’s life to be turned upside down. A minor accident can become a tragedy, a tree in the road can be a disaster so while I might speak lightly of the onrushing hurricane, I know that there is always the potential for someone to be hurt by this whirling beast so I place a caveat on my light-hearted musing. May we all see this through safely.
That being said our reaction here will be predictable. Whenever we have a storm that misses us let’s say in Dublin then it’s, “Ah sure it was only Cork.” (No offence Cork people but you’d say the same in reverse.) If a fella’s roof gets blown off then “Sure no one was killed” might be appropriate. All the animals from the farm were blown off a cliff? “Beef prices are so low now anyway, the storm’s probably done him a favour.” The house fell in on the pair of them as they lay in their bed. “Sure at least they died in their sleep.” The car was crushed by a tree! “That auld Vauxhall was due for the scrap yard anyway.”
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and make light of it so it doesn’t seem so scary. The Irish have been pessimistic optimists since Jesus was a baby in nappies. They say it’s the worst storm in over fifty years and there’s bound to be severe storm damage and maybe even some casualties – but sure I got the day off work! (Not me unfortunately) I heard one fella describe today as the Ophelia bank holiday. We tend to make the most of things here.
For me it’s hard to imagine the difference between what we are about to experience and what happens when the same force of nature hits landfall in a third world country. For all the hype surrounding this storm, we are a first world country in terms of infrastructure and support services. We generally build everything out of bricks and mortar so we are that little piggy whose house the wolf cant blow down. Despite our semi-permanent debates over underpaid nurses and an underfunded health service, they will not be found wanting if called upon and that applies to all national services.
Of course we are a nation of story-tellers and gross exaggerators. There is nothing like a good auld yarn so by the time it passes, it will have been the storm of the century that we survived. Hopefully, we’ll all be safe and sound and no one gets hurt and while I make light of this monster in advance of its arrival, that’s just the way of it. No use crying over milk you haven’t spilt yet.
This time tomorrow, the worst of it should hopefully have passed ( I can hear the wind getting up now) and any half-decent yarn-spinner, who will have had to as much as gone outside to right his or her overturned bin, will turn that into a tale of survival in the face of overwhelming odds. There will be tales of someone being blown off their feet into the path of an oncoming bus, well nearly – they always say nearly to explain why they survived, even if the bus was 50 yards away – “well ten seconds later and I’d have been dead.” We have a saying to cover that, “If my auntie had testicles she’d be my uncle.”
Nonetheless, there will be stories if nothing else. The ones that are true and tragic will be precisely that, and where I a prayerful man, I might pray for them in advance. But for the most part, and hopefully for the entire part, aside from felled trees and slates missing from roofs, the odd hoarding blown away or someone losing their trampoline from the back garden, the bulk of the tales from Ophelia will be well crafted, over the top exaggerations from creative minds, who enjoy the telling of a good story. Well mine will be anyway… I have to go out into the storm myself later, that should be interesting…If it isn’t I’ll do my best to make it so…Stay tuned…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –
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