Zippy’s second adventure…
This story is linked from A pooh-fect storm… and is written by guest contributor, Richard ” Zippy ” Thorns.
An Ill Wind.
With a name like ‘Fish’ you don’t, it could be argued, have an awful lot going for you. You could, for example, find yourself going on stage wearing a lawnmower on your head (or something), painting your face and blethering on about coffee stains on a magpie’s beermat.
Or you could find yourself one of the most respected meteorologists on National television, only to find yourself shot down in flames on the wrong side of an inexplicitly long-shot bet when the biggest storm in British history blows into town. Which of course was exactly what happened when poor Michael Fish gently derided a lady who rang the BBC to say that a hurricane was on its way. The hurricane blew down hundreds of thousands of trees, demolished buildings and even came dangerously near to providing a distraction from a darts final down at the Wheatsheaf (actually that last bit isn’t true because it was about 2am when the Great Storm arrived). But it was what greeted the residents of Kent and Sussex the next day that provided a distraction from life as we knew it.
Trees lay benign in the road, fences lay strewn about like matchsticks and the whole of the Southern Counties provided a dystopian scenario not unlike the set of a new episode of Doctor Who, although perhaps not quite as expensive. Planes were grounded, buses were cancelled, Field-Buss newsagents gave a thought to closing, and of course nobody could get into work. That’s where Zippy comes in; you might remember Zippy, who test-flew into Chris’s garden whilst jumping over the back fence, only to find out in mid-air that the house was built on a rise. Of course, noble Zippy decided that a little thing like a hurricane wasn’t going to stop him getting into work at Hoopers Department Store (well, underpants don’t exactly sell themselves, you understand). And so, after waiting an hour for a (non-existent) bus, Zippy supposed that (a) maybe a tree between Brighton and Crowborough might have fallen on the road after all or (b) section 6 subsection b of the Union of Bus Drivers advised: “stick the kettle on and go back to bed.”
Zippy wandered down Frant Road for two miles as far as Boars Head where a kindly driver stopped and instead of saying: “You’re mad” drove him as far as Snake Hill where the first fallen tree hove into view (ironic, really, as Hove was probably where the bus was). The driver of the car wished Zippy luck at getting into work at Hoopers without laughing, and drove away. Zippy went down Snake Hill, clambering over trees, ducking under trees, going around trees as far as Tunbridge Wells six miles away to be met with something not unlike a scene from 28 Days Later.
But less attractive.
Now, “The shops were shut” is an expression you might hear from time to time; “The town was shut” is a bit rarer on the ear. Zippy stood, ramrod straight against all the fallen detritus, chewing air, and decided to trek to the centre of Tunbridge Wells where the signs read as follows: Boots – CLOSED DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS. Millets (one doesn’t wish to be pedantic, but surely if anyone could cope, they could) – CLOSED DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS. Everybody else trading in the town mad enough to come in and put a sign on the door – CLOSED DUE TO ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS. The Orson Wells (a pub run by a Geordie) – CLORSED. Hoopers (purveyor of Hugo Boss nasal clips and Louis Vuitton tea-cosies) – “We really are awfully sorry but we’re obliged to close the doors to our valued customers until the situation improves. And please don’t go to Harrods.” And so it came to pass that Zippy had to make his way once again away from the battered buildings, through the battered town and once more take off on The Road that went back to the quest that only one man can take to change the future and in whose hands the whole destiny of… (sorry, got a bit carried away there) went back to Crowborough: over his trees and under his trees and round all his trees in reverse order, and all the way back to Crowborough seven miles away once more. A grand total of nine hours later, he then found his mates who, naturally, were all in the pub and who said “where have you been?” Probably adding, somewhat unhelpfully: “and your suit looks a bit like Frankenstein’s.” Zippy’s answer is sadly lost both to history and to Harvey’s Best. Perhaps it’s better that way.
You can follow Zippy, (Richard Thorns) and his search for the Pink Headed Duck, here.