Is he going in, surely not…
Yes he is, fully clothed.
Should I do something?
I can’t stop him, I can only watch helplessly from the cliff top.
There’s no one else around in this awful weather and the rain beating against my face makes it impossible to see him properly now.
Impossible to see if the man now being knocked over by the diagonal waves is trying to retreat back to the shore or allowing himself to be taken.
I came out without my phone, to escape from technology, to drown my worries in the storm. Has the man out there chosen a more drastic way to drown his thoughts?
When we write and post our blogs we hope people will read our words of wisdom, we hope they will read our post to the end. We all have different ideas; ‘how long is a piece of string’ comes to mind. But with varying degrees of success at dealing with WordPress, we might break up our tedious words with pictures or get a little carried away with the colour settings; anything to make sure readers don’t get bored. When we read a paperback or Kindle novel we happily expect to read hundreds of thousands of words with only chapter headings to break up the endless pages, but what if we published our novels in the same style as our blogs?
Chapter One Valentine’s Night
Ellen had never felt the house shake before. It was not unusual to hear the South Westerly driving rain against the bedroom windows. It was not unusual to be kept awake by torrential rain pounding the sloping roof above their heads, but this storm was getting scary. Gary was snoring through it all.
She crept out of bed and peeped through the curtains; in the orange glow of the street lights gusts of horizontal rain glittered and the road was a moving stream. She thought of what they had done the evening before, the man would be getting more than any of them had bargained for. Ellen’s part had merely been to lend the spare key and make sure they found the right number.
Ellen slipped back into bed. She had told no one, not even Gary. It would be foolish for her to go down to the seafront alone in this freak weather. The brothers were going to let him out in the morning with a warning to leave their sister alone. Before the storm, Ellen’s only worry had been that her beach hut would be damaged if the man tried to break out.
Gary was taking the boys to football.
‘Don’t go out in this weather Love, we don’t need any shopping and don’t do one of your “let’s go to the cliff top to look at the high spring tide” – it won’t be safe, they’re warning people to stay away from coastal areas.’
As soon as they had gone Ellen wrapped up and headed out on the five minute walk to the cliff top. In any other circumstances she would have loved the wind stinging her face. The record breaking wet winter had drawn her to study tide times and photograph flooding rivers and pounding waves.
At the cliff top she leaned into the howling wind, safe from falling, clinging onto the flimsy fence to prevent herself being blown backwards. But nothing could have prepared her for what she saw when she peered over the edge. The promenade was piled with wood, beach huts reduced to matchsticks. She was not the only person out; several photographers and distraught fellow beach hut owners struggled against the wind to make their way down the zig zag path. They picked their way past planks with dangerously protruding nails, huge Calor gas bottles and plastic body boards. Waves lapped over the strewn debris; some beach huts remained intact, but at bizarre angles. Nobody could hear themselves speak in the roaring wind, some stood by the empty space where their beach huts had been. Ellen stood where her beach hut used to be and picked up all that was left, the kettle. She looked out to sea and up and down the promenade, dreading the moment when someone would wave frantically and point to a boot sticking out from the planks, or a shape in the waves.
On Saturday morning at 10am, 15th February 2014, Ellen faced the probability she had become an accessory to manslaughter or murder. At 10.02am her thought processes had become those of a criminal. The man might have somehow saved himself, but if he had not, no evidence remained to link his death to her or her beach hut.
Read my novel for real here….
Exactly six years ago we had just had the Valentine’s Night Storm; we did not know it was called that till we had had it. The next year, in 2015, the Meteorological Office of the United Kingdom and Met Eireann decided to name storms in advance, with an alphabetical list of popular names they picked out from Facebook. It was claimed this would make people take storms more seriously and it worked, because since they started naming storms they have got worse, with more flooding. Last weekend it was Storm Ciara and as you read this we will be having Storm Dennis. Female and male names alternate, so luckily by the time we get to N ( probably in a few weeks time ) we can have Storm Noah.
Storms come with amber and red warnings, plus constant warnings from weather people in the cosy news studios to stay away from coastal areas. They then show photographs the public have taken just before they get washed away by waves and ‘go over’ to reporters being blown off the sea front to give us live coverage. It is so windy we can’t actually hear what they are saying.
This photo of Storm Ciara, thanks to Mike Jefferies Photography, saving me getting wet, appeared on Facebook. It is the famous cob at Lyme Regis in Dorset, one of the settings for Jane Austin’s novel Emma, where a trip to the seaside nearly ends in tragedy when a young lady contrives to fall off the cob. I don’t think the weather was this bad in that scene, but if you ever go to Lyme Regis the cob slopes and if it is wet it is very slippery.
Meanwhile back to Saturday morning 15th February 2014; after a night of the wind shaking our house I suggested ( insisted ) we go down to the cliff top at high tide for some bracing fresh air and this is what we saw.
It gave me an idea for a story and eventually became the opening scene for At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream.
If you live near the sea you need to prepare for storms.
But we don’t live that near the sea as we couldn’t afford a view.
Was sunset from the bedroom window heralding Storm Callum? We used to just have wind and rain till someone in charge of the weather decided we would take bad weather more seriously ( and join the big boys, the hurricanes ) if we had storms with names.
Morning brought rain and wind to the back door…
But we had to walk to the cliff top to check if Storm Callum had really arrived.
If it’s so windy you can’t breathe ( or walk straight ) it means you are having fun…
…and it was a good idea to take the scenic route to the shops.
Our best storm occurred on Valentine’s night 2014. Weather reports warned everybody to stay away from the coast, so we rushed to the cliff top at high tide the next morning.
Beach huts smashed to matchsticks, but no casualties locally except in my novel; this is where I got the idea for the opening to ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream’ – my WIP novel which I have’t quite finished yet…
My first memory of thunder is of an afternoon in the living room with my mother and her friend. Mum and Dad rented the top half of a terraced Edwardian house. When I heard the deep rumbling I thought the house was going to fall down. Being told it was thunder meant nothing, but the obvious fact that the house didn’t fall down and the calm reaction of the grown ups allayed my fears. But how to explain to young children what is happening when most adults find it hard to grasp the science?
Last night the south of England was treated to thunder and lightning of epic proportions; in these modern days of forecasting we were expecting storms, but the early evening display seemed disappointing and only enough rain to water the garden. But by midnight thunder had returned with a vengeance. Our chalet roof slopes over the bed, only camping out would bring one closer to nature and I love hearing the rain pounding on the roof. Satisfied that my empty water butts would be filled and the garden happy I did drop off to sleep, but within half an hour I was awake again.
I had dreamed lightning was going through my hands to my fingertips; maybe it wasn’t a dream! Lying there, the thunder was so loud, the lightning so frequent I began to wonder if perhaps this really was a timely warning from angry gods, a reminder we can’t control nature. How frightened our ancestors must have been with no understanding of electricity; Thor at his angriest. How bright and vicious the bolts of lightning in the utter darkness before tamed gas and electricity. To add to the terror, we know lightning does not stay safely high up in the sky, it can strike your home or strike you down dead.
We decided to go down to our tiny conservatory and watch through the glass roof. I tried filming on my phone and at 2am enthusiastically posted a ‘can’t sleep’ video on Facebook for Australian friends to enjoy. One minute 32 seconds of darkness and pattering of rain with a brief flash that lit up the glass ceiling; it did not convey the drama of the night.
This morning Facebook was filled with shocking images, revealing that many photographers had not gone to bed at all. From Somerset round to the Isle of Thanet, Glastonbury Tor to Margate Harbour, on cliffs and rural hillsides hours of patience and the ability to take infinite number of digital photos, resulted in beautiful pictures even an artist could not imagine. Local television news showed viewers’ pictures, no need for their own reporters to go out these days.
And still I don’t really understand where all that crackling electrical energy comes from and where it goes to when the skies are blue and calm. No modern scientist would dare to suggest it was Thor and other ancient gods and no politician is going to listen to their warning…