The forecast for Storm Doris, Blustery Belinda, Slightly Zephyrine Zoe or whatever her name was, turned out to be a little over-blown.
A seafaring cove might have described the wind force in Cheltenham on the day Doris was expected as a “strong breeze.”
True, it was a cheeky kind of breeze; the sort that might make a lady squeal with embarrassment by lifting her skirt at an inopportune moment , dislodging a hat or turning her umbrella inside out.
I went out for a walk in the wind and rain hoping to observe people having umbrella problems but the streets were deserted.
Did people think they would be blown away like the black-clad nannies in Mary Poppins? Perhaps the local radio station had been issuing dire “Stay in your homes” warnings much as they do if there’s an inch of snow on the way.
I thought everyone – including pets and wild creatures – liked a stiff breeze.
While Cheltenham’s very unlikely to experience anything on the tornado scale of the Wizard of Oz, a Winnie-the-Pooh-style Blustery Day livens things up no end.
The air in the Promenade was full of pirouetting leaves, jackdaws doing that rocking and rolling thing over the tops of the plane trees and seagulls showing off their soaring and banking skills (I was going to type ‘doing funny terns’ but terns can be quite serious at times).
Wind drives cats scatty. They go wild-eyed, flatten their ears and run up trees while dogs race in circles or snow-plough their noses tail-waggingly through piles of leaves.
Wind is nearly always comedic, whether it’s flatulence or the sort of weather that results in people in wildly flapping mackintoshes fighting to control their umbrellas.
Trying to subdue an umbrella is nothing, however, compared with mobilising an entire family to stabilise a tent while watching their carefully pegged toilet tent being hoisted aloft and blown across a field into a barbed wire fence. That’s not quite so amusing, particularly if it happens at 5.30am and you are consequently desperate for the loo and there is no loo block.
My own umbrella turned inside out three times on the Quite Windy Day but I was the only person around so the amusement value was wasted.
You’d think that by now, the 21st century, we would have invented a more efficient way of staying protected from the wind and rain than the umbrella. Umbrellas are just sooo 200 BC. They’ve been around since Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang was entombed with his concubines and his terracotta army in 200 BC. Who knows? Maybe James Dyson’s team of young inventors are coming up with some ideas that most of us can’t afford.
Walking back through the office car park, I noticed what from a distance looked like a grubby pink bag carrier bag someone had dropped.
It was the sad wreck of a discarded umbrella, sodden, properly blown inside out and ruined, with disconnected struts jutting out at insane angles.
It looked as though it had been destroyed in the wind and the owner had vented their spleen about its inadequacy by stamping on it. It would never be an umbrella again.
I picked it up by a strut and dropped it into the nearest bin.
Drat and double-drat. I’d walked around half of Cheltenham and the comedy moment had happened with 20 metres of the window of my office.