Monday was a weird day.
On Sunday night, a storm swept across the south of the UK, bringing with it high winds and pouring rain. We’d been forewarned about it for days, and references had been made on the news to the Great Storm of 1987. In fact those references were quite clearly saying ‘this won’t be as bad as that’, but nobody really paid much attention to that part. So, in true British style, we made jokes about the end of the world, all the while bracing ourselves just in case it actually was.
As it turns out, it wasn’t the end of the world, although I’m not in any way trying to downplay the seriousness of a storm that claimed four lives in the UK and several more across Europe, and I don’t believe anyone else should, either. For me personally, though, the most serious damage was a cracked plant pot on my balcony after one of my tomato plants fell over.
It rained a lot overnight, and was really windy when I woke up at 5am, staying that way for several hours as the storm moved across Kent. But by 9am, the sun had come out and it was like nothing had happened.
Oh, except for the fact that there wasn’t a single train going anywhere.
I think I’ve mentioned before that trains in my area (and probably all across the UK, actually) don’t deal well with any kind of weather. Snow is a particular problem, but we also face delays when it’s windy, wet or very hot. And let’s not forget that old favourite, ‘leaves on the line’. Well, on Monday, as it turned out, there was a lot more than just leaves on the line; there were whole trees, advertising billboards and various other obstacles. Network Rail, very sensibly, had said no trains could run until they’d checked the track. No problem there. Once it was clear I wasn’t going to catch my usual train just after 7am, I made myself a cup of tea and waited for news.
And waited. Went to the station. Went home again. Had another cup of tea. Waited some more. Checked Twitter. Was advised to check the website. Website wasn’t working. Went to the station again.
When it got to lunchtime and still nothing was moving, I decided I’d probably be more productive at home and officially gave up. The best thing about this was that come 5.30pm, I turned off my computer and I was instantly home, instead of heading for the station and my usual two-hour slog back to Kent. Having a whole evening at home was a bit of a shock to the system actually; by 9pm I was ready to go to bed.
So yes, it was an unexpected treat to be able to go to work without actually going to work. But it was also really weird. It was a bit like a snow day, apart from the fairly obvious difference that there was no snow, and the fact that practically everyone else I know had managed to get to work without incident (probably because they’re sensible enough to work near where they live; why didn’t I think of that?). As a result it felt a bit like I was bunking off, even though in reality I probably got more work done at home than I would have if I’d made it into the office. At least when it snows I can send my colleagues photos to prove how bad it is, but something tells me the picture of my broken plant pot wouldn’t have got me much sympathy.
By Tuesday everything was back to normal, and by that I mean the trains were only delayed by signalling problems rather than crazy weather. I made it to the office and was glad to be there, not just because I had easier access to my emails but because it turns out I actually like working around other people rather than on my own (didn’t see that coming).
But as I started my journey home in the evening, I couldn’t help thinking longingly of my commute from the living room to the kitchen the day before. I could definitely get used to that. Although ideally next time without the storm; I don’t think my tomato plants could take it.