28 February 2008


How was it for you darling? Almost twenty four hours ago, at around 12.55 on Tuesday February 26th, something moved fifteen miles beneath the planet's surface under Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, producing Britain's most significant seismic event in twenty five years.

It had been breezy when I walked home from the pub quiz. I was lying in bed, beginning to drift off into the unconsciousness of sleep when I had a sense that a massive wind had hit the house - perhaps blowing the front door open. An ornament fell off the bedroom shelves and I was shaken wide awake. What the hell? Shirley woke up and yelled at me "Are you all right?" She thought I had had some kind of massive seizure that had shaken the bed. Disappointing her ever so slightly, I leapt up and put on my dressing gown, went downstairs and saw the thing I will always remember as a signal memory of this perhaps one-in-a-lifetime event. The Danish royal family keyring on our front door key was still rocking in the lock instead of hanging completely still as usual.

Frances was home for the night from university and she was still up watching TV. She said the whole front room had shaken. When I think back, it felt like you were briefly living in a jelly house, subject to the whimsical power of a huge and ancient natural force - reminding me of the pettiness of our daily anxieties and complaints. It measured 5.2 on the Richter Scale and I can say that never before in my life have I experienced such a tremor.


  1. Has the keyring stopped swinging yet? Are the foundations ok? Could you get back to sleep? Very strange, and not at all British.

  2. Anonymous4:50 am

    I read about this when I opened my Yahoo! mail account this morning, and then I called my Dad, who lives in Parson Cross.

    He said he too thought it was the wind at first, but then the entire room seemed to shake. My sister freaked out thinking someone had broken into her new place and hid her head under the pillow hoping they'd go away lol.

    Seriously though, it's not something that happens very often and I can only imagine how frightening it must be to be jolted from sleep like that with such an event. I'm glad your home didn't suffer any damage.

  3. Anonymous6:02 pm

    It's not often the foundations of England are shaken so -- literally.

    I experienced a few earthquakes when I lived in Seattle. This may be slightly perverse, but I found them kinda fun. Sorta like the big snowstorms here on the East coast (one of which is occurring as I type). Everyone leaves work early and talks in a polite and animated way to total strangers. It takes an act of god for either of those things to happen in America.

  4. Wow!!

    I've been in a couple. In San Francisco and Okinawa. But no really bad ones.
    I was however watching that famous world series game when Oakland and San Francisco had that really bad one.

    Wow.. so earthquakes are very uncommon over there....?

  5. Very disturbing - the thought of the Danish royal family key ring, that is!

  6. Love the jelly house description.

    Feel quite cheated that I missed it.

  7. I've been in a 5, and found it fun. The 7 was a bit scarier. It's kind of nice afterward, as long as the earthquake is mild.


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