Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How I nearly died in the 1987 hurricane

25 years ago today I woke up in South London to find my bed surrounded by 1 metre deep rubble.

Only the bed wasn't affected; the rest of the room was piled with the remains of the roof, ceiling, rafters, bricks and slates.

It was 5 in the morning; the noise was deafening and above us wasn't the ceiling - it was the sky.

I had no idea what had happened. According to Michael Fish, the weather was to be fine. The previous evening it was calm with a clear sky.

My girlfriend and I had cycled back to my home in Camberwell from the pub on Clapham Common.

We had no idea what was going on. This was the time of the Cold War. Had the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction finally resulted in an exchange of nuclear missiles?  Was this The End?

We couldn't get out of the room because the bricks were against the door.

The cat, which had been on our bed, had scampered up a fallen rafter onto the roof next door.

Eventually we made ourselves heard to my fellow tenants downstairs. With their help, we got the door open and escaped.

There was only one problem. We had no clothes.

Fortunately there were some in the bathroom, and the tenants lent us theirs.

The Fire Brigade came. It was only then that we found out that it was a hurricane that has caused this.

They told us to get out immediately as the weight of the bricks and slates might cause all of the floors to give away.

We got into the car, to drive to my girlfriend's place in East Dulwich. But every road we drove down had fallen trees across it. It took ages to find the way through.

It was the worst case of damage in London that I heard about. We never reported it to the media. We were too shocked and pleased to be alive.

Later, I rescued my few reclaimable belongings. That's how I moved in with my girlfriend - she later became my first wife.

The money from the insurance helped to finance my first novel, this one, which I just reissued as an e-book!

You can buy it on Amazon, here.

Other formats available here:

It's great to be alive.

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