Tomorrow's Anecdote was inspired by the fateful storm of October 1987 so infamously unpredicted by BBC's Michael Fish.
Here I am again. Thirty years on, in Bath, working for the Chronicle, and life as manic as ever ...
As the sun vanishes and the skies darken once again, this is the unknowingly portentous blurb ...
Just another day in the newsroom? Hardly.
It is October 1987.
Clare Forester is an overworked and under-appreciated features sub on a provincial paper in Somerset, cheerfully ranting about her teenage daughter, her spiteful mother, her reclusive lodger, the Thatcher government, new technology, grubby journalists, petty union officials, her charming ex – and just about anything that crosses her path.
If things aren’t tempestuous enough, on Thursday, October 15, the Great Storm sweeps across Britain, cutting a swathe of destruction across the southern counties. At the office, Clare is pushed to breaking point by pushy bosses and inept colleagues, and …
Whenever I visit a garden, I’m drawn to the quietest corner, imagining how to recreate a mini-oasis of calm and inspiration.
Recently, I had the luck to visit Wallington in Northumberland, and found the perfect niche.
A joyous combination of modest asplenium ferns, alchemilla and lobelia set in a Regency-era horse-shoe enclosure facing the sun.
Frosted greens and navy are definitely my favourite combination for tranquillity. Add a lichen-encrusted stone feature, a bench and sundry hostas in pots, and I’m in heaven.
A small, naturalesque waterfall gurgled discreetly, reminding me of a wry comment by Alan Titchmarsh, amused at a large garden fountain, commenting that ot sounded like a large equine relieving itself into a deep trough. Oh, dear. I still can’t walk past ostentatious water features without wondering where the nearest loo is.
I may never aspire to the view they have at Wallington, but when we move house, I now have my wish list.
If you need an image of 1880s England, you can't do better than this fantastic photo from Southport Yesteryear.
Quite spooky for me, as the heroine of The Lost Orchid has an illicit weekend in that charming seaside resort. The photo is of Hesketh Park, close to my old home, and I know every inch of the paths - and the fact that the steps in the distance lead to a charming observatory.
Look at those tiny waists! The fur collars! The perambulator! The top hat! No wonder I'm hooked on Victoriana.