The Great Flood of 1968 came up in conversation.
“You would be too young to remember it.”
Maybe I was, I was only seven at the time, but there are plenty of other things that I remember from 1968, surely such a major event in the life of my county would have reached even the ears of a rustic small boy. I think I know why I never heard about it – I think I know where I was.
It was my first summer holiday. My Uncle Pat and Auntie Pearl were taking me with them to Cornwall. Pearl is only twelve years older than me, so was nineteen at the time, but she was my auntie and was always grown up.
We left Yeovil on a Saturday morning in my uncle’s little blue Simca to travel to Perranporth. This was Cliff Richard stuff for me, Cliff’s Summer Holiday could never have captured the excitement I felt. All went well until Bodmin Moor, where the car broke down. Pat was always very organized and an AA patrolman came along and fixed it. We reached the campsite by teatime to join another uncle and aunt and their family.
The sun shone the next day and we sat on the huge sandy beach, Rowntree’s Fruit Gums from a yellow box were passed around. Even now the smell of Fruit Gums can take me to that Cornish beach. Monday came damp and misty and the was no chance of the beach, we went to Penzance and sat and ate Cornish pasties looking at the rain. By Tuesday, the sunshine had returned, the sky was vivid blue and the whole day was spent doing whatever a seven year old did for a day on the beach.
My next memory was Wednesday morning, the wind had blown down our tent and heavy rain was falling. I had continued sleeping, even with no tent over me. Pearl reminded me of this back in February. We packed and headed for home.
My first summer holiday had lasted four days. No matter. It had been the most exciting time in my life – thirty-nine years later I can remember a chronology that I have never before written down.
Was the storm that swept away our tent on a Wednesday morning the same storm that swept away houses in north Somerset? Did our summer holiday come to an end on 10th July 1968?
Maybe that’s why I don’t remember the flood.