Home by cheese boat to a brave new waterworld

Dom Joly
Sunday 12 January 2014 01:00
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We landed at Heathrow from Hong Kong at the very anti-social time of 4.30am. I'd been scouring the online news for anywhere in the UK that was still above water. Our best bet was probably to swim to Windsor, and then try to get a boat down through the old land areas of Reading and Swindon then hope to beach somewhere in the mid-Cotswolds. Once there, we would have a chance of finding a friendly local tribe to give us safe passage back to our valley. But who might be running the valley now? While we'd been away in Asia the great waters had come, and old social orders had been reversed.

The powerful Clarkson clan, whose lands extended far around Chipping Campden, had been unseated. Word reached us that a large local mob rowed to Chief Jeremy's dwelling and ransacked the place. Without his land petrol vehicles to assist him he was a lame duck and supposedly gave little resistance. He was last seen attempting to take the heights of Tewkesbury in a Heath Robinson-type hovercraft. The locals are no walkover, however, and I fear the worst. It seems that the beloved Richard Hammond might not have made it through....

Meanwhile, up in what were the valleys of Stroud, where Lily Allen, Damien Hirst, and other such cultural luminaries held their hippie court, chaos reigns. The valleys are now vast river complexes and hungry estate agents from the lowlands of Cirencester and beyond have made their way up in ramshackle craft and are already selling waterside plots to developers eager to turn the valleys into the new Hamptons of Cheltenham.

When we were in Thailand, we encountered canny locals, long used to the threat of the sea, whose buildings are on stilts. This will undoubtedly become the norm in future housing projects in these isles. The Scottish independence situation might well be resolved before the referendum as water cuts across the area near Hadrian's Wall. Scotland could then gently float away and maybe bump up to Norway to form Norland – a place where men wear skirts while ski-jumping.

In the end, we made it home with little trouble. Mike, our usual driver, had purloined a motorboat from a gentleman in his street who had not returned from a trip to Asda in a rowing boat. We met up with Mike in Windsor and he managed to cruise us down to the foothills of Burford. There we found a large consignment of the Blur bassistAlex James's cheese that had apparently escaped his farm. We all hopped on board a large one and made it comfortably to within a mile of our home on our makeshift cheese barge.

Now home, we are coming to terms with this wet new world. Hills have become islands and valleys the new roads. I have managed to make quite a snazzy motorboat out of a large wicker man that I used for the last series of Fool Britannia. With a Labrador perched on the front, we are quite a sight as we make our way through Waterland. I think we're going to be all right. Shame about Hammond, but that's life, eh?

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