THIS ISLAND LIFE IT would be a tad fanciful to compare Arreton Valley in the IW to Tornado Alley in the Mid-West of America but we have our blustery moments here at Winford.
The latest occurred the other evening when a sudden squall swept in and battered our vulnerable little hamlet with hailstones so big they would not have shamed a decent gin and tonic.
They fell with such fury that an inspection the following morning revealed a few holes had been punched in our porch roof.
It was disquieting, therefore, to think what damage they might have inflicted upon an unprotected cranium and we were to get some idea the following day, when our mate Terry brought down a couple of his severely perforated courgettes.
But minor devastation of some sort was inevitable after a downpour like that, so it was no surprise when a chainsaw roared into life a few hours later (at 3.32am to be precise) just along the road as the lads from the SEB turned up to deal with 'a situation’. When you are wrenched from your slumbers at that time of the morning, there is little option but to switch on the radio and see what delights overnight broadcasting has to offer these days.
Five minutes later I switched the radio off and listened to the chainsaw instead.
But this little encounter with Mother Nature at her most malevolently capricious was as nothing compared to the big blow of 1989.
This should not be confused with the hurricane of 1987, the imminence of which was being denied by Michael Fish even as it was roaring through the Western Approaches and fluttering his trouser legs as he stood in the BBC weather studio.
The Newbery household escaped relatively unscathed on that occasion, only to be mugged two years later by a severe gale, which turned up relatively unheralded.
I happened to have that particular day off and Mrs N and I were sitting in the kitchen sipping our Nescaff, when she gazed out the window and said: "Now there’s something you don’t see very often."
"Pray tell to what you are referring," I replied.
"Christmas decorations being blown across the lawn in the middle of April," she said. "Well, our Christmas decorations to be precise."
The last time we had seen this particular assortment of paper chains, tinsel and glittering baubles, they had been safely packed away in cardboard boxes, so we reasoned something drastic must have happened to disturb the sanctity of the loft.
It turned out to be a sudden gust of about 80mph, which had got in under the eaves and lifted the roof so dramatically it attracted the attention of a local builder, the late Rab Thistleton, who happened to be working just up the road.
"We heard a bit of a noise and turned round just in time to see your roof flapping up and down like a comb-over in a convertible," he explained later.
It’s at times like this you appreciate good neighbours and David Rowe certainly proved himself to be that — and more.
Hours later he was still helping out, attaching his own tarpaulins to gaping holes where our roof used to be, while Mrs N was busy summoning a claims adjuster from the Co-op.
Hailstones the size of two-bob bits? Punctured porches? Crenelated courgettes? Chain-saws in the dark watches of the night?
We laugh at such things in the wilds of Winford.
The IW’s own Little and Large
Little Bert and Big Bob, aka Albert Cronin and Robert Wakerley.
WHAT a pity Little and Large came up with the name years before this photograph was taken, because these two herberts are littler and larger than the erstwhile comedy duo will ever be.
For those not immediately familiar with these craggy countenances, may I present for your delectation two of the best-known footballers in the Island during the 70s — Messrs Albert Cronin and Robert Wakerley.
Little Bert and Big Bob, as they will now be known, were pictured by their mate Martin Hellyer during a trip to the battlegrounds of the First World War recently.
There is something slightly predatory about the pose — with Big Bob looking as if he is about to have Little Bert for lunch — but no-one can fail to appreciate the keen fashion sense displayed by both men.
It’s difficult to decide whether Little Bert is growing into or out of his shorts but the turn-ups are a bit of a giveaway.
Big Bob, on the other hand, appears to have dispensed with conventional footwear and invested in a pair of reinforced inshore rescue craft.
Lest anyone should think I am being gratuitously offensive to a couple of elderly gentlemen, I should point out one of the pleasures of writing a column like this is being able to extract the waste fluid from a couple of old mates from time to time.