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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Thursday, January 29, 2009


Till yesterday evening I was unable to work, or blog, or do almost anything. We were warned that a major storm - a tempest, as the French term it - was going to hit us at 4am on Saturday... and right on time, it did. We lay in bed and heard it arriving. I thought it was one of those heavy old transport planes flying in low, to start with: it rolled in, droning and roaring; I'd never encountered anything like it in my life. They said it would keep on blowing till 1am Sunday, but it subsided into normal windiness by the end of Saturday afternoon... but left in its wake across Spain, South-West France and part of Italy 26 people dead, at least a quarter of the forest in the Landes destroyed, and here in the Gers one volunteer fireman killed by a falling tree while out trying to help other people.

Trees were down everywhere, sections of roofs ripped off, tombstones smashed and tombs broken open, pylons down - and of course, electricity off. Without electricity here, no phone or internet. Around Bordeaux there was flooding and the water was off too. In the end, Sarah and I and the other people in this commune (ie village and surrounds, not hippie/religious fanatic) had no power for 80 hours. And in our house, that also meant no power to the central heating boiler, so no heat for most of the time, till we managed to get a little gas heater on Monday lunchtime.

The phone lines took several hours longer than the power - but as I wrote to a friend, when I finally got online again last night, we were lucky: the roof stayed on and the house stayed up. The sad loss was the grand cypress at the front … which, like many a huge old conifer all over the region, was pulled right out of the ground by the wind. Now it lies there with its clay-encrusted rootball hanging over the crater it has made in the lawn. The palm tree, being far whippier, has survived.

This morning the sun is shining, and the snow-covered Pyrenees are blazingly in view... and the pile-up of e-mails awaits.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blimey - sounds scary. I was wondering how you were getting on.

hope things are soon back to normal


4:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your dreadful storm. I'm glad you escaped the tempest with your house intact.

5:23 pm  

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