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Published: January 24th 2008
Shortly after our returned to the UK while being a bit homeless ourselves visiting anyone who would give us a bed for the night, we visited a little Norfolk coastal village called Happisburgh. This 12th century North sea coastal village is nestled between Cromer and Great Yarmouth and it is on record as the first place in England where on average two meters of its clay cliff coastline a year is now falling into the sea. This includes various sea view (now ground level) hotels and homes. Diana Wrighton is such a person who on last count (Im sure this has changed since this winter kicked in) she had only 16 meters of path left before her hotel drops meters into the sea, she plans to stay for another 5 meters but then for obvious health and safety issues such as her bricks and mortar caving in on her, along with gas, electric, water and sewage pipes exploding. She has already abandoned her hotel business, but she still lives there.
Out the back and way down below her hotel I took a photo of the drop and I am sure her 5 meters are up as her hotel looked dangerously
close to the edge already. Out the front she left a moving message to her previous clients from the last 26 years of business, this hangs beside her old guest house sign. Even the local rescue life boat's access ramp disappeared in 2003 where 20 almighty meters of land fell at one time during a spout of very bad weather. The lifeboat service has not been in action for a few years now, and you would think that this is the one place that needs its vital services, one-minute its dinner the on lap and Corrie on the box, the next your world and everything and kitchen sink over board.
Walking through this village was eerie, it was coming up to Christmas and the decorations were all up and ready to go, business as usual. Unfortunately not for Diana Wrighton. Up the road a little as there isn’t much road left, was a great sign 'Don’t even think about parking here' which was perfect as it made me laugh but then sigh with sadness, as only meters up the tarmac the road had snapped off and dropped into the sea. Staunch residence who refuse to leave the sight have
relocated into caravans right by the cliff face edge, where union jacks fly high and proud, I did think that the caravans themselves were dangerously too close to the edge just then as elderly man peeked at me through his net curtains, this is all he has left, I wander what he was thinking right then, probably pesky tourists go bog off!
So here it is, real life evidence that something called global warming is really happening to us here in England, the world is metamorphosing be it by our carbon emissions or this is what the world does every few thousands of years and unfortunately time wise, we find ourselves right bang in the middle of the end of this world as we know it scenario. The photos prove that our tiny island is now very included in this equation and just because we are British means diddly shit to those powers that be….Mr.G & his Gods of nature posse. No one escapes. Over the New Year I watched a documentary about the floods last year 2007 around the Norfolk-Suffolk area and I could not believe it, I had no idea how bad it had gotten here, it
resembled New Orleans. Following the floods in Happisburgh of 1953 that claimed the lives of 300 people, wooden groynes were built along the whole stretch of coastline to help fight back the raging North Sea. This did hold up as a good barrier for three decades, but now the sea has broken through and let’s face it, the sea is one of the most powerful forces of nature not to be taken on sitting down.
It seems that our government have now handed this issue over to the Environment agency and they wont spend any money on trying to defend the cliffs from the sea or help the people of Happisburgh as they see this kind of coastal defense as a waste of funds and of no great political urgency, But what happens when a thread tags on a jumper and isn’t stitched up in time? This has naturally saddened the residents of Happisburgh as their picturesque village is disappearing before their very eyes, some people had not yet finished paying their mortgages when forced to move out and rent, now they have to pay both. This place has now become a very different kind of tourist attraction for
curious melancholic eco others, but there were no caravans selling hot bacon rolls and cups of luke warm tea! But this is just the first of many coastline places now showing decay....is this government not going to fix all of these places? Very soon we wont have any land left in this country and our government wont have any place left to claim council taxes from hard working coastal folk, in fact the prime ministers job will soon enough be as redundant as a Happisburgh estate agent!
The Death of a Friend
I had a lovely friend her name was Sheila Evans, she sadly passed away over this last Christmas. She was an amazing strong woman, a designer with incredible creative energy, fun, generous and kind to everyone who crossed her path especially the ambulance men and fire men of Islington as she lived in a basement flat and had suffered from MS for over 30 years, she had been confined to a wheel chair for a lot of that time but never let it get to her. Her funeral was on the 2nd January on a freezing cold dark and windy day but regardless it was a
great day. She had organized her own funeral and her own coffin to be made out of cardboard. It was perfect and it worked really well. Upon it lay yellow ribbons and flowers; it looked just as spectacular as any mahogany brass trimmed number. I will always have a lasting memory of her coffin as it was so unusual, fashionably eco, very now and so her. As they played her tune ‘What a wonderful world’ by Louis Armstrong, as if on cue from God himself a stream of sunshine suddenly shone through from the stain glass window opposite which illuminated the whole box.
I sat in the front row and I noticed an ever so slight kink in the top corner of the cardboard coffin, it was like a moment of defining significance to me as the realness of this whole situation of her death, of other friends deaths over the years, deaths in all relationships, deaths in one self while still alive and this amazing journey we call life that every one of us is trying our best to get through in one piece, it all became very clear to me at that precise moment, non of us
Where is your bathroom?
Urmm it was here a minute ago....!
are perfect, we spend years seeking it, when we find it things change again and on it goes, what is perfection to one person isn’t always to someone else, acceptance is perfection. Sheila had planned her funeral with precision but she would not have been able to control that one dent in the corner of her coffin. Somethings are beyond our control. It was all perfect to me though. What a positive way to start the New Year. Bless you Sheila.
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