This half- term break has been utterly blighted by "Hurricane Jude". I cancelled all plans at the beginning of the week, lest my daughter be carried off in a 72mph gust of wind the moment she stepped a tiny foot outside.
I stockpiled crayons, Play-Doh, DVDs; an armoury of indoor boredom- busters to be used away from windows and walls to minimise the threat of falling masonry.
I hung up the car keys and offered my regrets to family and friends. We would not be partaking of outdoor activities of any description until the tempest passed.
Then my daughter and I sat back and waited. We are still waiting, in fact.
The flaw in my plan was a question of geography. For, despite the headlines that screamed at us from every newsagent, supermarket, and petrol station shelf, despite Huw Edwards' solemn verdict on the news each evening, we live in County Durham. And whilst Jude has wrought devastation down South, up here she registered as a slight breeze rippling through the trees. Barely enough to dislodge a conker. Vast swathes of the country north of Wapping were completely unaffected by deadly Jude.
The start of our week of self-imposed incarceration was touted as fun. How many places could we find to hide in our minuscule two-up-two-down house? What different pictorial interpretations could we find for that crack in the ceiling? Tinned beans for supper again, darling?
By Thursday, though, my daughter was a little antsy. She knew something was up. There are only so many ways to manipulate Play-Doh, and once the script of Madagascar has been learnt by heart, the film loses much of its appeal. So, I ventured a moistened finger outside to test wind speed and direction.
Grudgingly, I conceded that the front garden might be back within bounds. Trick or treating that evening, however, was still subject to review. Others, it seemed, were defying headlines and taking tentative steps outside. Some crazed fools even got into their cars and drove out of the village. Yet my innate caution, and dogged belief in anything the media tells me, did not permit me to reinstate any plans.
However, come evening my daughter had donned her cat costume and was mewling at the door to get out. We did a swift circuit of the block – long enough to collect a slack handful of Haribo – before returning to the safety of the lounge.
This weekend, though, I have had to release the hatches and accept that the weather I see outside the window is actually on live stream and not a Truman Show-style fabrication. I have also vowed not to look at the national headlines, or pay any further heed to Huw.
That said, latest reports do suggest gales are set to continue this month, and that they are almost definitely probably heading north. It is not yet clear what arbitrary level of hysteria is being advised in relation to this news, but perhaps I will get to use my stockpiled toy stash after all.
Lucie Brownlee blogs at: wifeafterdeath.com/
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