Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Take on the Quake!

I am gutted.

Everybody was talking all about it at work.... a 5.2 tremor on the Richter scale, the epicentre of which was located in Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.

It was felt as far afield as Wales, Liverpool and the Thames valley... and apparently South Warwickshire. I say apparently because I slept right through... in fact, I think I nodded off just moments before everything kicked off. How unfortunate am I? I would have seriously have revelled in it.

Why do I say that?

Earthquakes are dangerous things... you only have to look back a few years back in 2004 to see the devastation caused by the Boxing Day Tsunami... thousands dead as far away as Africa, to realise this. Cities have been levelled, civilizations have been brought down by them... when in full force they are not to be taken lightly.

Yet this is Britain... we have a habit of making things that happen over here, bigger than they actually are. A little bit of snow falls and the nation is paralysed... the wind picks up a bit and we should all stay inside! We are very lucky in this country and we would do well to remember it. Yes there were the floods... and before you accuse me of oversight on that, let me remind you that I live in one of the towns that has been the worst hit... twice in 10 years. Lets get some perspective here though; even with the effects of global warming, our injuries and casualties in the face of natural disaster are pretty low compared to nations with less fortunate location or infrastructure. We are blessed.

So when the Earth starts undulating in this country, at best it's a few bumps and bruises and a hefty insurance bill for collateral damage... and something new to talk about during an otherwise mundane and monotonous day.
And I missed out this time.

The last "significant" quake we had a few years ago, just about woke me up from the slumber I had fallen into on the sofa.

The first earthquake I really remember, was some time around 1990/1991. I was in a biology class and I recall a very strange if we were on a boat that had hit a large wave. It felt like we had plummeted about 20-30 foot, and then come back up again just as swiftly. I have fond memories of that day because I was the first person to risk looking stupid and point out that something had happened... and because of poor old Mr Jarvie's practical demonstration of what causes an earthquake... which resulted most of the class falling about in fits of laughter.

On reflection however, maybe I should take earthquakes a little more seriously. According to folklore... my town has some seismic history:

In circa 709 AD, the bishop (later saint) Egwin visited the town of Alcester as part of an ecclesiastical council held to consecrate the foundation of Evesham Abbey. He preached the Gospel but the townsfolk were hardhearted to his message and drowned him out with the sounds of their industry... and so he departed the town and shook the dust of his feet. According to legend the Earth opened up and took the smiths into her bosom. The town's prosperity ebbed and dwindled from that day forth.

Maybe it is just legend but I'll wager there is some truth. There is a geological ridge not far from the town... and what little I know of the tale, suggests Egwin acted in accordance with biblical tradition and even if you explain away the earthquake, you still have to account for the sudden change in the town's fortunes.

Anyway enough of myth, legend and lore. I think I'll leave you with a link to other people's reactions to the day's events.

I wonder how Alastair got on... he is a lot closer to the action than me!

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