The Great Storm of 1987

On the night of the 15th October the South of England was battered by winds of up to 100mph.

I lived through this. In fact as the storm hit overnight I slept through this. As I was barely out of being a toddler I think you can forgive me that. My tender young age at the time also means I don’t have a great deal of memories from it.

The South was battered.

I can recall being at my Grans house huddled around a (battery operated) radio listening to the latest news and hearing my relatives talk about traffic lights being literally bent over by the wind.

Bigger memories come from the years after. In particularly the tenth aniversary where there was a fair amount of TV coverage and documentaries looking back at the events of the night.

Micheal Fish famously delivered a weather forecast stating that there was no reason to worry when a woman had rung the BBC to say there was a hurricane coming.

Technically it was only hurricane force winds but he has spent the remainder of his life apologising for it. Often the butt of the joke his account of the telephone call has actually changed frequently down the years.

Aside from Micheal’s famous faux-parr it’s the footage of Ian , the Met Office forecaster the next day which is most interesting.

Ian McCaskill was battered by the fallout from the storm.

He gives a brilliant lesson in PR and what to do when you completely fail to forecast the weather correctly as he appeared on the news looking literally windswept and apologetic.

Amongst the documentaries ten years on I recall a 999 special. The reconstruction series hosted by Micheal Buerk that I loved as a kid and really need to write up for here at some point.

Elsewhere footage on YouTube surfaced of how the various broadcasters managed to put out a service with the power knocked out. Lucky that the BBC had the broom cupboard to fall back on.

The Broomcupboard with children’s artwork removed.

It’s the sort of thing that would have had me glued to the television. Except we were huddled round a radio and I was under 5.

The London bombings

It’s hard to think that it has been 15 years. 15 years ago I was going to London a lot. I had friends up there and was planning a move that way. On that day though I was closer to home.

I’d hope on a train for some shopping in Portsmouth and all seemed normal until I went past the shop window of Dixons and the breaking news was streaming on the screens.

I decided to hope back on a train home, which was just as well because for a while there were no trains anywhere. Once home I switched on the TV, hopped on the computer and watched the whole thing unfold before my eyes.

It was horrible to see and naturally my first thoughts were for friends and family in London who might be caught up but there was also a sense that this day was always going to come.

Ever since the terror attacks in New York we knew London would be on the radar but that didn’t stop it being any less tragic or shocking.

Almost immediately defiant images from all over London started to pop up stating ‘we are not afraid’ and I took that stance I was back in London a week later and on those same tube lines.

The day Margret Thatcher resigned

Yes that is clearly Andi Peters but being that I was quite a young boy at the time it is my biggest memory of the day that the Iron Lady resigned.

Children’s BBC was moved from BBC1 to BBC2 which meant that it all looked different and in my mind very brown. At the time I couldn’t work out why the prime minister resigning led to the broomcupboard getting a completely new set.

In later years I learnt that the Broom Cupboard was not a studio but the continuity booth used for all the announcements on BBC1 so naturally when they changed channels they changed the physical location too. Today a bigger question is why was Andi wearing a BBC Sport polo shirt.

I saved the tokens, I got the book and I learnt that Margaret Thatcher was the only female PM we had had.

As for Margaret Thatcher, a few years later I was reading the list of prime ministers at the back of a Weetabix Encyclopedia and remarked to my parents that she must have been really good to come to power, I let you imagine what reaction that got…

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