Tuesday, 28 March 2017

While Mortals Sleep


It began in the night, while most sensible mortals slept.   great white flakes floating down witnessed only by owls, the occupants of the occasional police patrol car and other random nocturnal creatures.  by mid afternoon it had turned to relentless, torrential rain hammering a tattoo on the roof, bouncing back high into the air with the force of it's landing.  up in the Pennines the deluge soaked into already sodden ground before racing down into the valley carrying branches from battered trees aloft.  in the early hours it  funnelled into the beck at the back of my flats, an angry, roaring, foaming, flood threatening to overcome the retaining stone wall.
Either the thundering of a thousand locomotives or the floodlights woke me.   there were men in the watercourse, water up to their armpits, wielding long spiked poles they were manically hauling lumps of tree out of the water, pushing the accumulated debris through the protective grating of the slipway, working with a frenzy as more rain dumped in the hills poured down into the valley.  eventually they managed to remove what looked like the bough of a mighty conifer and slowly, imperceptibly, as their exhaustion began to show, the water level began to abate, their movements slowed, the urgency slackened.

Later we'd learn it wasn't only the Water Board who worked through the night to protect our homes, the fire service, police, ambulance, coastguard were all called out to serve.   many homes were flooded that night, businesses ruined, animals trapped in fields.   as i watched those men, the windows around me stayed darkened, the world slept.   when my neighbours woke there was no evidence of the battle waged on their behalf, nobody to bear witness to those soaked, frozen, battered men.
Every night while you and i are tucked up warm and secure brave men and women put their lives on the line for our safety, i wonder how often they hear a word of thanks from those they protect once the drama is over and the world has moved on to its next distraction.   in this age of social media and electronic communication it takes just a moment to express gratitude, to build up and encourage, to say "thank you i haven't forgotten your actions when we needed you".   we seem to have become a nation quick to complain but slow to praise, jumping to condemn forgetting to thank, then wonder why the workforce is halfhearted and demoralised. The Australians have called us "whingeing pommies" since the late 19th century, it seems we have recently decided to live up to the reputation with a vengeance.   why has negativity become our default?     

Life throws various forms of storms our way, some major some minor, but how we choose to react to those called upon to assist us will impact on how willing they will be to step up and cheerfully raise us out of the mire whether we are in ankle or armpit deep.   

2 comments: