Retroladytyping …

Desmond, stoicism and soft tissues

imagesDG4GUYX7  This is me at the moment – feeling very sorry for myself when that annoying tickle in the throat and headache chose the first day of our week in the Lake District to develop into a full-blown (pun intended), eyes-watering, throat-sanding, steam inhaling, Vick rubbing, Lemsip drinking cold.  Talk about timing … made much worse by enduring an 8 hour delay on the M6.  I tried to be brave, tried to think about the people in other cars with crying, hot, irritating children, and those at the side of the motorway standing forlornly by their bonnet-up cars, but it was difficult, very difficult.  My well of inner kindness was flooded with the effects of what feels like the worse cold ever, as well as the problem of what to do with a pile of soggy tissues.  Added to that, a glance in the mirror showed I looked like a cross between Worzel Gummidge and Aunt Sally – red-patches among the whiteness of my face and hair blown every which way into sweaty clumps.    I was not nice to look at, but not as awful as I felt.   I was in a pitiful state, and feeling very sorry for myself when we arrived, eventually.

Then two things happened, the first maybe less significant, though it meant a lot to me – MrP, having put up with my miserable grumblings, frustration, sneezing etc… for the past day, said “Don’t worry about unpacking.  I’ll do all that.  You lie down.  I’ll go to the Chemist and get some of those soft balsam tissues and whatever else they have to help.”

I do quite like him sometimes, and I certainly didn’t deserve any consideration.  Of course, I didn’t leave the unpacking to him (as if!), but it was so considerate of him to offer.  Just thought, maybe he  wanted to escape … and I don’t blame him.  I am not a patient patient.

The other thing was that I picked up a copy of Cumbria Life, the magazine which the lady who owns ‘our’ cottage saves for me, as she knows I appreciate a good pile of them for the first evening of our visit.  The January 2016 issue gave an account of the floods resulting from Storm Desmond in December 2015.  I was already aware, of course, of that event, but reading local people’s personal stories really brought it home. So much harm was done to more than their belongings.   One months rain fell in one day.  Just trying to understand that is beyond me without the pictures in Cumbria Life of places I knew.  One of our favourite walks was no more – two bridges had been swept away in the torrent; the main road between two of our favourite places, Grasmere and Ambleside, was no more.  Landslips had taken care of that.

More significant though is the effects on people’s everyday lives and their incredible stoicism and determination to get on with their lives.  We’ve seen pictures on the news of the effects of flooding on people’s homes, their precious possessions and their livelihoods.  You’d have thought morale would have been at rock bottom and it probably was, for a while. It was the middle of the winter, that dark,  time before Christmas, when there is so much to be done,  without coping with the ruination caused by Desmond.

There were many stories and pictures in Cumbrian Life showing how people overcame their feelings and carried on regardless to keep life as normal and routine as possible.    A Christmas Fair scheduled to happen just two days after the floods happened went ahead for example.  Not only that but the turnout exceeded previous records – how about that for stoicism in the face of what would have finished lesser people off for weeks, me included.

One picture stood out for me more than the others,  and I hadn’t seen it before – one little girl, aged 5, determinedly walking to her school along a specially made path around the landslip affected road, just two days after the floods.  It would have been very easy for that little girl and her parents to not bother.  It was nearly Christmas; what difference would a couple of weeks make, especially at age 5.  She, and they,  were clearly determined to carry on as normal.  I won’t post that picture – probably copyrighted, but it was of a tiny girl, carrying a backpack almost as big as she was, wearing wellies of course and a bright red coat, being watched by her proud mum, while she walked along a path at the edge of a flooded field so she could get to school, and maybe take part in Christmas festivities as planned.

Certainly puts my sniffles and self-pity into perspective.  In the wee small hours, when MrP was snoring contentedly, and I was blowing, sniffing, coughing and quietly hating him for just getting on with what he needed to do, I briefly considered giving up, catching the first train home and leaving him to it.  However, I’m not going to.  I shall keep taking the tablets, using my special soft tissues and spend some money to help support the wonderful people of Cumbria.  I may just spend today resting though … feeling a whole lot less sorry for myself than I did yesterday and at 2 a.m. this morning.  Then it’ll be life as normal, with added tissues and Lemsip.

If anyone is considering a visit, the Lake District is well and truly open for business; it always was even during December’s floods.  It is beautiful; the weather is warm and sunny and set to remain that way for the rest of the week, so much so that MrP has just requested suncream for his head – least I can do …