A quarter of a century ago tonight the great storm swept across southern England. Many of us have our memories and as much as anything it behoves us to remember the twenty two people who died that night.
I have my own particular memory. It was that night, with spectacularly bad timing, that I left the Franciscan community in which I was a novice. I had fallen in love with the Bursar and we had chosen that night to depart.
We borrowed a car and drove from the Friary in Dorset to friends in rural Kent. We were an hour or so ahead of the centre of the storm but it was certainly wet and windy. I was still driving on a Provisional Licence with ‘L’ plates. As with so many momentous occasions in life it is hard at this distance to distinguish between fact and reconstruction, but I do recall the Magic Roundabout in Swindon being an interesting learning experience.
We arrived at Chiddingstone vicarage in the early hours of the next morning and went to bed.
When we awoke the next morning any thought of rest and recuperation or the chance to reflect on what we had done was banished. All roads to the village were blocked by fallen trees, the vicarage garden resembled a Canadian logging station. Genuine care and concern was proffered by our friends for as long as breakfast lasted and then we were handed chain saws. We chopped and sawed and carried fallen trees for three days. No time for navel gazing and that was a jolly good thing.