Where were you during the Great February 2008 Earthquake?
I was in the front room. Felt like the biggest bloody lorry in the world went past the front window. Bit of a doppler shift effect as the roll of noise approached us and then hit us. Certainly not big enough or long enough to move anything.
Of course, we used to live in Birmingham when the last Earthquake of 2002 centered on Dudley. So it was pretty obvious what it was. Still that unearthly feeling though, a strange unnatural atmosphere, much like the eerie calm of the eclipse in as much as it was completely different from an everyday experience.
Of course, as always with things like this it's fascinating to watch the media responding. Louise was in bed and switched on Radio 5. Whereas I was downstairs just locking up and watched Sky News. Molly woke up after the fact but thought it was all just a dream.
Once we quickly ascertained that everyone was okay and nothing was wrong with the house we started to enjoy it.
Radio 5 did what it usually does and just got on with it, reporting the news, taking calls, assembling the data.
Sky, on the other hand, was hilarious. This poor news anchor, completely unused to doing anything but reading the links through the night from autocue is desperately trying to make the tiny amount of information live up to the huge BREAKING NEWS rolling headline in the background.
Watching and writing as I laughed:
1:15: Painful, painful TV. The anchor is desperately trying to make the phrase "reports from as far afield as Birnmingham, Leicester, Bedford and Lincoln of an Earthquake" fill enough TV space to justify the massive breaking news banner running across the background.
1:16: They've now managed to get shocked from Bedford on the line: some woman who had been in a few earthquakes around the world. She tried to explain how it made the house shake and made the comparison with the lorry roaring past. Then pointed out that she used to live in an old house and the last earthquake barely rocked that. But she now lives in something 9 years old and that rocked as if it were made of paper compared to the old house.
Sky spend the rest of the night after this using "rocked as if it were made of paper" to try to make the earthquake into this hideously scary thing rather than the rather mild, if slightly unsettling and certainly unusual natural phenomenon.
1:18: She's now speaking to Lisa Dowd of Birmingham, who struck a nicely pompous tone in her voice as she pointed out that she couldn't get through to the police to find out what is going on. Hello? Lisa? It's a small bloody earthquake. Why are you bothering the police?
I later found out that after the last earthquake the police were "swamped" with calls. I find this amazing and try and imagine the conversations:
Caller: "What's going on Officer?"
Police: "We believe it's an earthquake maam."
Caller: "Can't you do anything about it"?
Police: "We're investigating now maam, but we really don't think arresting the earthquake is the answer".
1:22am Radio 5 have a bloke on from the US Geological Survey telling us it's a 4.7 quake with an epicentre 30 miles south of Hull.
1:23am Sky still repeating their mantra of "as far apart as London, Lincoln, Manchester" and have no idea where it's centered on. Doesn't anyone at Sky keep an ear on the radio just in case?
1:23-1:35am: More of the same. Interview any idiot on the phone talking about how it was a loud noise, like a lorry, no damage, yes, quite scary etc etc.
Waffle a lot and repeat Lisa Dowd's words over and over and over but do so in such a manner as to make out she's an expert because "I remember the Dudley earthquake of 2002".
1:36am Halleluyah. Sky catch up and tentatively announce that it was a 4.7 quake with an epicentre 15 miles north-east of Lincoln.
Which is exactly 30 miles south of Hull, just like R5 reported nearly 15 minutes earlier.
Spend nearly 40 minutes with a huge breaking news banner flashing behind the anchors head and then manage to miss the actual news as it comes in.
1:40am Sky are now asking for any pictures you might have of the quake. What? How does that make any sense at all? We're now going to have to sit through far too many grainy phone cam videos of wardrobes shaking with a bit of a rumbly noise. Or is that just Kevin's stomach making a noise and the camera wobbling? Pathetic.
1:48am All is right with the world and Sky have a little earthquake symbol emanating from Hull.
1:56am They've finally put her out of her misery and gone to a break.
Then I went to bed.
Today I have mostly been amazed at the footage of people who were absolutely terrified. The few people who had property damage have a right to be scared but this was from people completely unaffected by any damage. It was just an unsettling bit of shaking. Once you reject the other options: Lorry through the house, jet engine landed on the roof, surely a process of deduction can reason it out to be a bloody earthquake.
Then logic should kick in and remind you that we don't do earthquakes in the UK so it's bound not to be that serious.
But no. These people were terrified.