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Mother Nature's Revenge - By Rebecca Wicks

I woke up with flu this morning. Hot and cold sweats and a feeling of nausea prevailed until I was forced to walk to the pharmacy. The lady looked at me sympathetically, handed me some ibuprofen and said "Ah, the weather's changing." I think that's the reason for every illness here. When it suddenly got quite chilly last December and I had the sniffles, she said exactly the same thing as she slipped me some Lemsip.

Mother Nature's RevengeI suppose there's something quite comforting in the fact that the weather's to blame, though. When I lived in New York and found myself with the sniffles, it was pretty much always because of that runny-nosed homeless man who nudged me on the corner of Broadway. When I lived in London and woke with a cough, it was clearly all thanks to the pesky teen reprobate chucking used tissues about and smoking cigarettes on the back of the number 8 bus.

At least for us desert-dwellers, fooling ourselves that we're living the cosmopolitan dream, there's never anything incredibly ominous at the root of our minor illnesses. And aside from the flash floods of a couple of months back, at least we pretty much know what to expect, most of the time.

We've all heard about the earthquake that happened in England last week. It was the biggest the country's experienced in 25 years and was totally unexpected. I think a hairbrush fell off a mantelpiece somewhere and a few pieces of china most definitely rattled in places closer to the epicenter - a small town close to my parent's home, called Market Rasen.

Mum wrote me an email after hearing what had happened on the news and said she'd thought it was a lorry going past. She woke up for about three minutes and then went back to sleep, oblivious to the earth-shattering event she had just witnessed. For a whole day, everyone had something to talk about in a town where the only exciting thing to have ever happened before, was when some bloke who used to live there wrote some lyrics that went on to be used by Michael Jackson.

Thankfully, no one was killed and only one person had to wear a band-aid for a while as a result of this sudden event. But wait! This week there's even more excitement - winds of up to 80km an hour have been battering British shores. Mother Nature's going crazy.

Just the other day, thirty unfortunate souls had to be rescued from a beachfront caravan park, after crashing waves flooded the site. Shocking. Coastguard rescue officers were apparently called in to help. We probably shouldn't say it was their own fault for booking a holiday in a caravan park in the first place - but these things are frightening, none-the-less. Imagine reclining on your two by three foot floral patterned bench, gearing up to watch some snooker on your black and white telly, only to feel your deluxe three-berther being battered by gale-force winds from all directions. Before you know it, your Tetley tea's been spilled all over your new Carrefour sleeping bag and there's a helicopter hovering over the space where the port-a-loo used to stand. These things never used to happen in Britain.

Global warming is quite possibly at fault and if this is the case, it's probably only going to get worse. The next English earthquake might even make a few dogs bark or a slate fall off a roof. Last week a number of US bound flights were diverted to Birmingham International Airport because of the weather - a tragedy in itself. It's not entirely clear how long they had to spend in Birmingham (or if anyone got out unscathed) but elsewhere, 18 trees blew over. Terrible. It's just all going wrong.

The whole thing puts my flu into perspective, really. As long as the changing weather in Dubai is bringing me the shakes and not shaking up my entire apartment and knocking my pot plants over (we don't have many trees, where I live), I think I can deal with it.

Posted: 13 March 2008

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