World of Chig   


I Feel The Earth Move*

...and welcome Autumn. With a bang. Or a shake. A bloody enormous great shake. Those 15 seconds at 00:54 this morning were without doubt the most terrifying fifteen seconds I’ve spent in bed since....oh we won't go into that now.

I wasn’t particularly tired last night, so at 00:54, despite knowing my alarm was set for 05:45, I still had my bedside lamp on and was just beginning to drift off, while listening to Edwina Currie, broadcasting on Radio 5 Live from just down the road at Pebble Mill. All of a sudden, the windows are rattling, but not in the irregular way they often do when there's a storm blowing outside. This was insistent, full-on rattling, with a deep rumble behind it. At the same time, the floors are shaking, and the house is swaying from side to side. Bear in mind I live in a row of twelve Edwardian terraced houses. I am three houses in from one end and ten in from the other. It's pretty stable. But at 00:54 it felt like a giant hand had picked up the house and was trying to shake out the contents. For a millisecond, as I opened my eyes, I thought someone was attacking the house and shaking the windows from outside. But the house was moving so much it took about two seconds to dismiss that theory. Then I thought that one of the trains that rumble through Balsall Heath, one of the controversial NUCLEAR trains, had perhaps derailed. Or the Iraqi bombing had started. Or one of my neighbours houses had exploded. Or my own cooker had exploded. All of these things went through my mind, one after the other, and only after all of them did I consider it was an earth tremor. I have never been so scared in my life. I never thought it was possible for the floors, the whole house, to shake so much. I felt like I was going to cry. I needed to check if anything had exploded, so when the shaking eventually stopped I got up and looked out of the window. No sign of any exploded houses. No sign of curtains twitching. This made me think it was even more likely there had been an explosion in MY house. I gingerly went downstairs, wondering if anything had fallen off the walls, or if the kitchen was a smouldering mess. Nothing. Still shaking. Need local news. Retuned the bedside radio to BRMB. But BRMB joins up with Capital at night, so there won't BE any local info. Thankfully, 01:00 is when it comes back to Brum again, and straight away the presenter says, "Did the Earth move for you? We are getting reports of an earth tremor. It was fairly frightening, but we think that's what it was." I'm so relieved - I am not going mad. I resist the temptation to phone my Dad, as I had just felt a need to talk to someone. In my panic at 00:54, I had actually missed Edwina Currie commenting that the BBC studio was shaking, but when I go back to Radio 5, they are dealing with phone calls and e-mails, getting an instant picture of where the tremor was felt. From Aberystwyth across to Lincoln, in Birmingham, from Gloucester to Rochdale and The Wirral, Birmingham again, as far South as Northampton, Birmingham again. This morning we're told the epicentre was in Dud-laaaaaaay. Sorry, Dudley. See epicentre map. That's so close. No wonder it felt like nuclear war had started. It was 4.8 on the Richter scale, and apparently it needs to be 5.0 or 5.5 before any structural damage occurs. I really feel for people who live in earthquake zones, because our tremor will just be a talking point in a few days; it hasn't caused more damage than a few broken windows. But we don't expect that kind of thing, and it was terrifying. I'd be quite happy never to experience that again. With the adrenalin pumping through my veins after that, I have had very little sleep. Today could be knackering. According to the British Geological Survey, last night's tremor was the strongest since 1926. Did the earth move for you too? They want to know - tell them here.

(*What other headline did you expect? 'Shake, Rattle and Roll', perhaps?)

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