Friday, September 09, 2005


Imagine if a flood in England drowned 500 people - to many, it would be proof of the changes brought about by global warming.

It happened in East Anglia in 1953. The British had lost 400,000 citizens to war in the previous 15 years, so were a tougher race back then. Life went on.

Via Clive Davis, this look at the floods.

People were asking how Britain would respond now to a Katrina-like inundation. John Wyndham's 1953 novel The Kraken Wakes (possibly inspired by January's floods), in which the melting of the polar ice-caps inundates the globe, describes a London controlled by armed gangs who kill strangers on sight.

Britain has had great storms before. One such, in Lincolnshire on 5th October 1571, inspired Jesn Ingelow's poem. An eygre is a tidal bore - still called an aegir today.

With that he cried and beat his breast;
For, lo! along the river's bed
A mighty eygre reared his crest,
And uppe the Lindis raging sped.
It swept thunderous noises loud;
Shaped like a curling snow-white cloud,
Or like a demon in a shroud.

And rearing Lindis backward pressed
Shook all her trembling bankes amaine;
Then madly at the eygre's breast
Flung uppe her weltering walls again.
Then bankes came downe with ruin and rout-
Then beaten foam flew round about-
Then all the mighty floods were out.

So farre, so fast the eygre drave,
The heart had hardly time to beat,
Before a shallow seething wave
Sobbed in the grasses at oure feet:
The feet had hardly time to flee
Before it brake against the knee,
And all the world was in the sea.

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