The day flood waters stole my priceless past


I'm disappointed that, unlike hurricanes or typhoons, nobody seems to have given a name to the series of storms that are currently battering the country. I could suggest "Perpetual Storm Fucknut" or "Operation Sink Somerset", but I'm sure that there are better options out there. I always find it weird when huge Caribbean-island destroying hurricanes are called innocuous things like "Daisy" or "Betty". Far better to call a spade a spade, and name them "Hurricane Run, Run To The Hills, We're All Going To Die". If nothing else then this would certainly get people's attention when the weather forecasters mention the system on their reports.

I have a lot of sympathy for the people whose homes have been flooded. It happened to me six or seven years ago, and it was a traumatic event. We were away in Canada when it happened. The village storm drain got blocked by a torrent of rainwater running down the hill, and our house was right next to it. We were flooded with about 2ft of dirty water throughout the house. Fortunately for us, we had a friend staying while we were away whose boyfriend was a builder, and they managed to get some stuff upstairs and to find some industrial heaters to start the drying-out process. We therefore missed the undoubtedly heart-stopping moment when you realise that water is starting to seep into your house and that you are powerless to do anything about it.

Despite being close to Prince Charles's Highgrove home at the time, we were not blessed with a visit from him. This was probably lucky because his stock question of "so... what is it you do?" would have been quite a complicated one to answer. The insurance company assessor, an American who had recently been dealing with Hurricane Katrina, must have wondered the same thing as she inspected the soggy piles of wet belongings in our courtyard. A lot of the stuff was old props and costumes from my television shows that I'd kept in an out-building. She was very professional as she inspected the goods....

"One 6ft 'turd' costume, two giant squirrel costumes, one oversized mobile phone, one 9ft prop ICBM with "ACME" written on side, one 12ft foam tampon...." The only question she asked was what my thoughts were on value? How do you value a 6ft turd? I did my best and they paid up without any hassle, but it goes without saying that a lot of these items were irreplaceable and had sentimental value.

These are the things that we lose in fires and floods that can never be valued, replaced, forgotten. I'm not talking about my 6ft turd suit (although I do miss it at Halloween). It's things like photographs, letters from your past, rubbish drawings by your kids when they were three. This is the collective detritus that makes up the sum of your parts, and you only really miss this stuff when its gone.

The movie Monuments Men deals with Hitler wanting to destroy the artwork of the races he loathed – eradicating their cultural past and negating their history. I'm unsure whether my 6ft turd would have made it on to the degenerate art list. It probably would have. Whatever, part of my past is missing.

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