Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Great Fire of Carshalton; An Eye-Witness Report by Your Man on the Spot

Having enjoyed a morning stroll around our little local nature reserve - where the Gatekeepers and Ringlets were flying in merry abundance - I was walking back into the village when I noticed a thick  plume of pretty ugly smoke rolling up from somewhere behind the High Street shops. It looked like too much to be an over-exuberant bonfire - and so it proved. As I drew nearer, I discovered that it was the old bakery building behind the baker's shop. There were no flames, but the smoke was billowing out in quantity.
 Already knots of interested bystanders were forming all around, and in minutes the first batch of cops had turned up and set about their usual thing - putting up tape barriers, closing the road and gesticulating at drivers and onlookers alike. More police were soon piling onto the scene, with cars turning up every minute - but no sign of the fire brigade. I nipped into the Co-Op supermarket as it was still open (it wouldn't be for long), and while I was at the till, a young House Sparrow - no doubt disoriented by the smoke and kerfuffle - flew in through the open door, like Bede's sparrow flying through the hall, except that there was no exit at the other end. The last I saw of him he was perched atop Tinned Vegetables.
 When I passed that way a couple of hours later, still more of the High Street was closed, and half a dozen fire engines were now at the scene, with miles of hoses trailing everywhere. They seemed to have done their work and nothing remained of the fire but a smoky tang to the air. The firefighters were sorting out their equipment, amid much joshing and badinage. They seemed to be enjoying themselves; they don't often get to see a fire these days.
 Stop Press: I just discovered that this fire broke out just as the firefighters' latest two-hour strike was under way - what are the chances?


  1. So, your sparrow is a metaphor for a human who issues from the abysm of creation, enters the co-op of life and is doomed to spend all eternity in the vicinity of a lot of vegetables? Is this all we've got to look forward to?

  2. Ho ho! If we're lucky the Fire Exit will be open Guy...

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