The Greatest Curricle

It is ironic, is it not, that 3700 year old plans for an ark have emerged just as Britain is about to sink beneath the waves.

We’ve got this friend. He lives at Marlow, Marlow-on-Thames. And his house is to all intents and purposes dry; right until you look underneath the floorboards.

Lift a board and there it is, a churning maelstrom plotting to take over the house.

There’s a doctor’s surgery on the Thames, Β at the village where Kenneth Graham retired to – Pangbourne. It called The Boathouse Surgery, and it is right by the river, but they’ve thought of that. They’ve built it on stilts.

This is it usually:


And this was it when I went to photograph Pangbourne a week or so ago:


And though I have no pictures today, I’ll wager the water is higher now, and the boathouse is in danger of becoming a boat.

Which brings me to practical matters. Let us, fellow Englishman, take a look at the plans for the Ark which have recently emerged. This one is not like Noah’s; it is not tidy and clinker-constructed; the instructions which were on a tablet, brought to the British Museum by a member of the public, Douglas Simmonds, who had been gifted it for passing his exams man-years ago, were for a huge round pitch-and-skin coracle, two thirds as big as a football pitch, big enough to carry a whole community.

It strikes me this might come in quite handy. If the waters keep rising we’ll be going in by more than two by two, I can tell you. We’ll all be a seagoing nation once more, despite cuts to the Naval services. Travelling on huge curricles, bound for all those places we once made our home from home, thousands of miles away from Britain.

Alternatively, they could issue us all with straws, and we could sink beneath the waves in comparative safety, suffering very little more discomfort than we are at present.

The psychologists ask, don’t they: what’s the worst that can happen? Is it really that bad?

A few days ago we were marvelling that we had found 800,000 year old footprints, proof of the land bridge which once ran between Britain and the continent. I wonder if they ever asked the people who made the footprints the same question. The water came, and obliterated their way of life. sooner or later.

How long before Britannia rules the seabed?


27 thoughts on “The Greatest Curricle

  1. “Alternatively, they could issue us all with straws, and we could sink beneath the waves in comparative safety, suffering very little more discomfort than we are at present.”….Oh how I love that! That is SO British, I was rolling around with that ironic sense of humour we are so famed for. You managed to touch that humour at a time when we need to access it more than ever. Thankyou!

  2. River dredging has been stopped in the UK. Odd that suddenly there is a LOT of flooding. Someone should tie down those politicians who make those decisions (right where they will drown would be my choice)

  3. OMG Kate, sorry to read of all this flooding . . . what a beautiful building Pangbourne is and what a pity if it disappears!

    1. Naomi, so much is disappearing it’s quite unnerving; but this is Britain. it will all be beck, though the insurers might go barefoot for a while and premiums will definitely rise…

  4. Come and visit in Charleston, in the States. You will find people who are very used to flooding and just take it in stride. Now all this snow and ice bit is totally something else.

    Stay dry and warm!

  5. Just looking at online photos and the weather map….it would appear half your country is underwater. Glad to see here that you’re on somewhat higher ground. Now, I’m kind of sorry that I’ve been grumbling about all the snow we have — seems somehow inconsequential in comparison (unless, of course, it warms up too soon and all melts at once πŸ™‚ ). Stay dry!

  6. Kate, it appears dire over there. I read another post today about sewage coming through the floorboards in some parts. And parts of our wide, brown land are fighting the most devastating fires. Arks and big flying machines may become the order of the day.

  7. We feel the same way over here, Kate. Downtown Charleston floods three and four feet in places at high tide. We used to get a big lake at the end of our street during every heavy rain.

  8. If only we could siphon it from your shores and hose down the California drought. When it rains, it pours . . . and when it refuses to rain, it’s just as unsettling.

    Don’t float away.

  9. And I continue to bemoan how badly we in California need rain! I do not know how to reconcile that need with what i see in the flooding. I saw some news footage yesterday that left me unnerved for the poor people caught with helplessness in the frightening power of that destructive rain. We stand powerless in the face of nature’s capricious movement. It humbles me. I’m so glad to know that you are safe. I don’t know the geography relative to where you live, and so it really is a good report to know you are not in this path. But that doesn’t diminish the impact you must feel in seeing your beautiful countryside affected. ox

  10. I plead guilty to tunnel vision and not having been aware of your flooding until now. Hope everyone there stays safe and dry. Having had our own flooding disaster just a few months ago, I am all too familiar with the terrible damage floods can do. Glad to know you’re okay.

  11. I can’t believe the number of people in USA scoff at global warming as hoax and even more astonishing number of “scientists” that support that thinking. The sea level has risen 8 inches in Miami, Florida since 1920.

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