Tuesday, 27 September 2011

No Place Like Home

Did the Earth move for you last night? If you were resident in my street I can assure you it did.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes due to a huge explosion in a small garage located 8 doors up from us. We live in a relatively quiet Victorian terraced street and know a couple of neighbours by name, five or six to nod to. I’m sure your area is not much different in that respect.

Seeing so many people in their pyjamas, nightdresses and dressing gowns in the middle of the street at midnight made the whole event seem even more surreal. An Arthur Dent Fan Club reunion anyone? Too surreal? Please yourself.

Taken to the local church around the corner we swapped tea, coffee, gossip and got to know each other more in the seven hours that we were together than in the three and a half years that we had lived there. We now know 20 or so neighbours by name and an even greater number to nod to .

The children played as if they’d known each other forever. I lay claim to the chaviest kids in the church, however, as upon seeing the first of many police cars patrolling the area last night my 12 year old ran off shouting “Po! Po!” and my eight year old went the other way shouting, “5-0! 5-0!” I really must cut down on the American TV drama that they watch!

The fire service was , as usual, magnificent. We were allowed back home at about 6.30am. We bid farewell to our new friends and put our heads down.

Nobody died and nobody was injured. The garage and two houses either side of it were destroyed. Other houses and gardens down the hill, stopping just four doors from us, were also severely damaged.

Nobody could sleep, nobody went to work and the kids were kept off school.

Opening the door this morning I saw, rather than the normally empty street, neighbour talking to neighbour. They had gathered again by the remaining fire tender, just behind the cordon, watching the work still in progress in investigating the fire, possibly arson we were sadly told.

I know how Dorothy felt when she awoke from her journey to Oz and was back in the black and white world. Everybody seemed strangely familiar, though they weren’t wearing their costumes in the cold light of day and had dispensed with stripey PJ’s, ill-fitting slippers and fluffy dressing gowns.

There’s no place like home, unless there’s a raging inferno on your doorstep.

Then there’s no place like the church hall whilst wearing your dressing gown.

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