The Burns’ Day Storm, parallel with the strongest European windstorms on record, occurred on the 25th and 26th January 1990, covering north western Europe. The storm has been given no official name, some call it Daria. Starting on the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns and the birthday of my dad, it caused damage far and wide with hurricane-force winds. According to the Met Office the storm to 97 lives. Other figures have ranged from 89 to more than 100.
Severe weather warnings were headline news, I sat at home with my folks. I was 21 years old and had just started a job, working for Summers Henderson & Co, as an Insurance Loss Adjusters PA. I was due to begin some training only it never happened. The next day at work I was told to leave early. The storm was hitting London and our office in Shoreditch was shutting early in preparation. I was grateful to the coming winds, today was my dad’s birthday and we were due to order a Chinese meal for five, Stepping out onto Commercial Street the wind took my breath away. Rubbish was blowing down the street like it was in a race. I felt a taste of fear in the air. The street was unusually empty. Turning towards Bishops Gate I could see hundreds of people milling around Liverpool Street Station.
Keeping a steady pace I moved toward them. People in despair, every pay phone had a queue. A handful of people on the new technology called a mobile phone (cell phone) telling those at the other end of the line that the station had been closed due to the winds. Bus stops were a sea of people, stranded and trying to work out the best form of transport. People stood in the middle of the road trying to flag down crammed taxi cabs. The crazy thing was, my dad was out there somewhere in his black taxi, caught up in the jammed packed chaos.
Turning on my heels I thought rationally. I began walking back towards Shoreditch and others seemed to be following. People began talking, finding out about each others lives. People from all over the country who were supposed to be catching there connection to where ever they were trying to get to. The atmosphere was electric.
I carried on walking towards my Nans’ who lived in Stoke Newington, place of my birth and thank fully only 3.7 miles away. Every pay phone was crammed so I kept on just walking. I walked some distance with a interesting woman of roughly my age until she realised she was going the wrong way. I helped an elderly man, who wasn’t sure of his way. Slowly people dwindled as I reached my destination and the comfort of my nans homemade chicken soup. My dad called my Nan and was pleased I had for once used my brain. He met me there a while later, I managed to walk from the city quicker than it had taken him to drive through.
We left my nans and picked up a takeaway en route home. It was lovely to have my birthday dad to myself for the journey back to Hainault in his black taxi.
On the 29th January I returned to SH & Co, the storm had passed for many. Not me, I was thrown right into the deep-end. The company was so busy from all of the insurance claims that I couldn’t cope and there was no time for training. The Burns Storm was my training and it was something they and I could do without. Blown away, I left amicably at the end of the week… little did I know the storm of 2013 would hit me like a tidal wave. The lack of lightening struck twice.
Tonight I sit and type this blog, thinking of my Dadzie on the eve of his Birthday. At this time 27 years ago nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, but my knight, my dad, was there to save me.