Turmoil – first published 6 December 2013


Some days seem to be filled with turmoil and 6 December 2013 was certainly one of them. The day before we had high winds, the edge of an Atlantic storm. The morning news was full of gale force winds, storm damage and floods. In our little office and in the wider world there was turmoil too.

6 December 2013

Luckily for us down on the South Coast we missed the worst of yesterday’s storms but, in Scotland and northern England, there were gales of up to eighty miles an hour. In fact, in the mountains of Aberdeenshire and Invernesshire, there were winds as high as one hundred and forty miles an hour. It made our blustery day seem rather tame.

Sadly, two people lost their lives, one when he was hit by a falling tree and another when his lorry overturned. The wind wasn’t the end of it though, it was followed by the worst tidal surges in sixty years. When I woke this morning it was to news of homes being washed into the sea and flooding along most of Britain’s coastline. Here things were fairly low key, although Hamble, Bursledon and Beaulieu were flooded. As the stretch of the Itchen along the river path is tidal I did wonder what it would be like this morning. In the end I didn’t get to find out. It was still so windy when I left the house I chickened out, especially as I’d just been watching news footage of a man almost getting blown off a bridge. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go for a walk along the river path just for a look.

The other news of the day was sad, if not unexpected. The passing of Nelson Mandela was the top news item and rightly so. Seems to me all the terrorists blowing things up and crashing planes into tall buildings for whatever it is they are trying to achieve (somehow that part seems to have escaped me) could learn a thing or two from him. Mr Mandela believed that people should be treated equally regardless of their race. He spent twenty seven years in prison for those beliefs but world outrage finally freed him and the apartheid regime fell. He even became the first black president of South Africa. Not a bomb or a plane in sight. As I’m neither black or South African I may have oversimplified things a little but there is no doubt that he was truly a great man. The world is a little poorer for his passing.

It felt as if our office was in the middle of a storm too. The man from the Frozen North arrived much earlier than expected to pick up all the documentation stationery. Alice wasn’t ready, half the boxes still needed taping up. So, while the man moved the ones that were done, I helped Alice with the taping. This meant moving lots and lots of boxes. It was hot and dusty work. Once it was done and the last box left the office Alice and I went round the corner for a well earned drink.

For once I didn’t have a skinny latte. The barista man almost fell over with shock. A few days ago I noticed they had a sign advertising their Christmas special, hot chocolate orange. There and then I promised myself I would sample one before the office closed, today was that day. All I can say is mmmmm.

The rest of the day was all about clearing things out. We have great big sacks for all the things that need to be shredded and black bin bags for the things that don’t. I started with my drawers and the archive filing. That filled one shredding sack and one bin bag. There are still two filing drawers to clear but Arabella wants to check through those first.

After that I went up to the mezzanine to start work on the cupboards up there. No one was actually all that sure what was in any of them as mostly they’d been used by marketing and the sales rep who left just after I started. These are huge cupboards going all along the wall and I started with the one right in the corner. It turned out to be the sales rep’s cupboard and was filled with big storage boxes.

The whole thing turned out to be quite cathartic for me. When I worked at Dream Factory I was Agency Sales Manager. My job was dealing with the sales reps, the travel agents and all the commercial contracts along with organising the educational trips and big events. The day I was told I was being made redundant I was sent home on garden leave so I went from sitting at my desk working on the monthly statistics to unemployed in a matter of five minutes. Within the year the company folded and I guess someone must have cleared out my files but it wasn’t me.

As I opened box after box, file after file, it was like going back in time. There were archives of commercial agreements, some with names I recognised, heads of the same consortia I worked with. There were archived statistics. There were packs from old educational trips and events. One box was filled with archived leaflets, brochures and trade magazines, goodness knows why they’d been kept. As I pulled them out and stuffed them into rubbish bags one magazine jumped out at me.

It was an old Travel Bulletin, a trade magazine, and the cover was a wraparound for Dream Factory from about a year before I left. It actually made me gasp to see it. It was advertising the new Kingdoms of Morocco brochure and, when I turned it over there was a competition on the back, the first five agents to make a booking from the brochure would win a bottle of champagne. To enter the agent had to email their booking reference or call in. The emails went to me and the phone number was my direct line.


It was a competition I remembered well. You would not believe the number of emails and calls I got. I had a big crate of champagne stored away, we used to send it to agents who made bookings of over twenty thousand pounds. I even had some special packing boxes to send it out in. Until I saw that magazine I’d forgotten all about it. Suddenly it hit me that I may as well have been clearing out my own files from all those years ago. It seems like life has come full circle.


Commando came to the office this afternoon to pick up my Harrods box. He wasn’t sure how to get into the car park so he rang as he was leaving home and I went and stood outside to direct him in. He’s never been into the office before and he was quite surprised the lift doesn’t actually go up to our floor. He was very taken with the views from our windows too. “I’ll bet you’re going to miss those,” he said. Sometimes I wonder if he reads my blog or listens to anything I say at all. Sadly for him it was before the sun started to go down so he missed the best of the views. He was right though, I will miss these views.



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Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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