Life, if you’re living it properly, is full of incident. And incident often forces you to become conversant with subjects and situations that weren’t previously any of your business.

Back in 2015 I was in the lucky position to be able to buy a bigger house. Living in a small city with a river running through it I decided that a spot of waterfront living was the thing for me.

I paid lots of money to solicitors and estate agents and other people who didn’t appear to be doing all that much earn it, and found myself in possession of a new home, on the banks of a tidal estuary.

Lovely spot.

“Oh…but, the river?” friends asked, concerned, eyebrows raised.

“Yes, the river!” I’d reply, enthusiastically, the raising of their eyebrows not registering.

When talking serious subjects, you see, we British like to tiptoe around the issue with a series of nods and winks.

While to some a raised eyebrow might not seem like the most effective way to raise a flood warning, I kick myself for not decoding the message.

Three days after moving in there was a high winter tide, which coincided with strong winds and record levels of rainfall. The river burst its banks, all manner of trees, shipping containers, bikes, shopping trolleys and bits of bridge began to float past my lovely new house.

Just to add to the general sense of disaster all power and mobile phone coverage went down across the city.

And so, in a few short days, I became conversant with the vagaries of home insurance, the fallibility of electricity sub-stations, the location of my old camping stove, and the fact that a shipping container barrelling down a flooded river twenty metres from your front door is really quite a thing to behold.

Fortunately, I did not become conversant with the process of bailing out a flooded house. The water rose to within ten metres of my front door and no further. Those clever housing developers had built in the merest rise in elevation – enough to avert disaster.

And I still shrug with disdain at those eyebrow raising fear mongerers who hint at catastrophe.

I’m conversant with the meaning of raised eyebrows. I choose to ignore them.

(By Docoed (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)



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