A storm is coming. The hexagon of France is on alert. Don’t move unless it is essential they say. I call the family to action and Drummer boy suddenly decides that it is time to unload his drum kit from his girlfriend’s car and slouches off to watch her do it. Darling d is peeled reluctantly from the TV screen and we go outside and study the garden, looking for prospective flying objects.
“Why is there a large ladder against your bedroom window?” I ask, suspiciously imagining Rapunzel-like letting down of hair to visitors in the night.
“Dad…”, she replies.
He has been away for about 6 weeks, but I do vaguely remember him struggling with the chimney on the roof at the beginning of the winter, another battle in the continuing war with the wood stove.
The ladder is laid to rest on its side, two tables are rescued from the garden, and various objects are wedged around the wheel barrow and re-cycling dustbins.
I patrol the house checking windows, unplugging phones, internet connections and computers.
Sure enough, at 3 am, large creatures blow in from across the valley and start beating their wings on my bedroom windows. Something comes splattering down the unused chimney and I put the radio on to drown it. A crackly voice keeps telling me the same bad news at frequent intervals. Three and a half hours later, I get up with the teenagers for school and the creatures have moved down to attack the kitchen door. I offer to drive them down the hill to the school bus stop instead of leaving them to their usual healthy moan filled walk in the dark. It is raining. A lot.
We are all soaked in the few moments between house door and car door as we run for it. We crawl down the hill over assorted branches, none of them big enough to obstruct the route completely. At the bus stop, in my headlights, we see a bedraggled adolescent clutching his school bag eagerly anticipating the imminent arrival of the bus, disappointed that it is just us.
A small voice sounding quite unlike Darling d comes from the back of the car.
“Yes. What is it now?”
“I’ve left my school bag in the kitchen.”
Back in the warm, I log on to Internet and find that her father has done exactly the same thing at exactly the same time but on another continent.
3 days ago