I had an odd experience yesterday.
I’d gone out in the afternoon for a quiet drink in a local pub, and ended up with a front row seat at a rock concert.
It was sunny and so I’d headed for a pub with a shady courtyard. There were usually only about 5 people in the courtyard, and plenty of seats. But when I arrived with a beer there were 100 people in it, maybe more, and a band setting up under an awning at one end.
I thought I was going to have to stand, like most people were, but squeezing my way to the front I found a couple of empty chairs, and sat down in one. And more or less as soon as I’d sat down, the band started playing, mostly old standards like Stand By Me. As I listened I realised that they were pretty ambitious in their choice of music. Playing Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love required the lead guitarist to play like Eric Clapton, and he seemed perfectly capable of doing it. He was probably as old as Eric Clapton as well. Even more ambitious, in some ways, was the Wailers’ Stir It Up, and I watched the seated bass guitarist’s fingers picking out the notes, as the girls came out and started energetically dancing on the cobblestones in front of the band, and I wondered if they were the right notes.
I wondered whether anyone would be smoking, given it was so crowded. But the guy sat beside me lit up, and then the guy on the other side lit up too.
“Shame about the weather,” the lead guitarist said, as the sun blazed down, and he launched into Walk On The Wild Side, and ended with Teenage Kicks.
When I got home I listened to Stir It Up again. The bass player had indeed been playing the right notes.
Shame about the weather in Houston, Texas too. Hurricane Harvey seems to have pretty much come to a halt over the city, and is unloading 12 inches of water onto it every day, and has done so for three days, and looks set to carry on for several more days. Flood waters are 15 feet deep in places.
The Republican Governor of Texas was recommending that the city be evacuated before the storm arrived, but the Democratic Mayor of Houston disagreed, so most of (greater) Houston’s 10 million or so inhabitants are presumably still in the city.
How do you evacuate 10 million people from a city? The Governor had said there were 200 buses available. But if a bus can carry 50 people, it wouldn’t need 200 buses: it would need 200,000 buses. Are there that many buses in the USA? And where would they go? And wouldn’t they empty all the gas stations along the route out? And end up motionless in traffic jams in the waters rising on the roads?
So what do you do if you can’t evacuate? It seemed to me that the only thing to do would be to head for high ground or tall buildings in the city. There doesn’t seem to be any high ground in Houston, but there seem to be plenty of tall buildings in the centre of the city. Do any cities have plans for where people should go to find high ground or tall buildings?
The power is out over most of Houston as well, so that will mean freezers and fridges defrosting, and maybe no way to heat food or boil water for lots of people.
And ants and alligators and snakes have also been on the move. I saw a video of a huge ball of fire ants drifting in the flood waters. It can’t help much to have your house invaded by fire ants, and have alligators coming in through the windows.
This could get very, very bad. It can only be hours or days before either Climate Change or Donald Trump are blamed for it all.
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