Being woken up at one o’clock in the morning isn’t amusing, unless it’s for your wife to do something very nice to you. It’s even less amusing when it’s the second time in less than half an hour that she’s done it, and there isn’t so much as a spot of fellatio in sight.
At 12:30 this morning, Ali fell in to a slumber deep enough to rival that of Morpheus and, in doing so, dropped the book she was reading on to the floor, where it landed on her mobile phone. The contact resulted in her phone dialling mine, which was in my jeans trouser pocket the other side of the room. Hearing the phone ring at that time in the morning is enough to cause anybody to panic and I woke with a startle that took me a little while to settle from once I’d realised what had happened.
Ali’s subsequent snoring, however, rumbled deep to the Earth’s core and, at one o’clock in the morning, she shook me awake again, worried that she’d just heard a door close in the bars beneath us and that somebody might be creeping around in the dark. As the hyper-sensitive burglar alarms – prone to call the police the moment a common housefly buzzes by them – weren’t ringing and given that there was a gale blowing so fiercely outside that the building was groaning like the hull of an old ship, I put the noises down to our aged eighteenth century building moaning and creaking in the dark and went back to sleep.
Turns out this morning, however, that she might actually have heard a bit of an earthquake in action. Not that we put two-and-two together straight away, mind you. My step-father, currently in Houston, Texas, on business had heard about the quake via a US Propaganda News Channel that probably happened to mention in passing that England had sunk to its oblivion, and rang home at four o’clock this morning to check my mum was okay. It was only after a subsequent text conversation with my mother, and whilst watching the dramatic scenes of police putting tape around a building that had lost some roof tiles, that we started to work out what might have happened.
Whilst America might be slightly disappointed to hear that all our houses haven’t fallen down, it seems that last night our country was struck by its most powerful quake in the last quarter century. Earthquakes, as a really crude and rather brief explanation, are caused by the patchwork quilt of tectonic plates which constantly move about beneath the surface of our planet. Big quakes are caused when one plate isn’t looking where it’s going and bumps in to another. Whilst the giant plates argue with each other over insurance details for a little while, havoc can sometimes break out on the surface above, as has been seen in some of the more notorious quakes such as the Boxing Day Sumatra-Andaman quake of 2004, which caused an estimated 230’000 fatalities, or the 1983 Californian quake that left downtown Coalinga ruined.
The subsurface geological activity of the British Isles, however, is as lively as Mo Mowlam’s libido and as a result we have a pretty unexciting – and therefore safe – environment in which to live. That said we do experience about 200 earthquakes a year, although most go unfelt on the surface.
Consequently, such unusual and unexpected quake activity in the UK will undoubtedly prompt the environmentalists to have a little look at the situation and, as usual, by the time all the investigations have been conducted it will probably end up being my fault.
Because Tuesday nights are our one night of the week off we invariably escape from the pub for a bit and go and find things to do that will stop the children from whining and moaning and bleating on about being hungry. Last night, however, we decided that we’d have a good old fashioned night in, feed the children early, play games with them, give them their monthly bath and then send them to bed early. Once this was done, the plan was to crack open a bottle of wine and sit down to watch some back episodes of Ashes to Ashes. In order to enjoy this to the full, however, we decided to order a take-away, and this meant I had to go and pick up a Chinese meal from Newmarket.
To do this meant starting my 4×4 and, as a result – and because we’re being brainwashed by the Daily Mail that all off-roaders are built by Satan – I think I probably sent a seismic shiver up the spine of the country to Market Rasen which, in turn, caused a chimney to fall down in Barnsley.
Nothing at all to do with seismic shifts, tectonic plate movements or, indeed, just the planet doing what it’s done for millions of years, then.