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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


Geologists had noted the increasing tilt of Great Britain throughout the twentieth century. The eastern edge of the country was becoming closer to sea level while the western side continued to rise. In the latter decades of the century, however, it became apparent that the rate of change was increasing until, by the turn of the century, it stood at eight degrees and rising.

The seriousness of the situation was outlined in a broadcast to the nation in which the Prime Minister explained the prediction of geologists that if the tilt reached twelve degrees, the country would be at serious risk of capsizing.

Emergency measures were instigated. Initially, all people defined as obese were relocated to areas west of the Pennines. Objections were raised by many of those required to lose eight or ten stones in weight before they could return to their homes. There was no right of appeal during the emergency, however, and police in Norfolk and Yorkshire made particular use of their ‘stop and weigh’ powers.

The rate of increase in the tilt was slowed, but still the angle increased. Phase two of the emergency response was therefore put into action, and the whole population was resettled as close to the west coast as possible.

It was known that the greatest increase in the tilt occurred during storms and after the gales of November 2010 the nation awoke to find the country lying at an angle of eleven degrees. Many had rolled out of bed. Snooker tables required re-levelling. Bowling greens reopened as dry ski slopes.

Also people began to dig. There was now recognition that it might take just one more storm to turn the country over. Those near the coast might be able to scramble onto the upturned land, but those inland would be trapped. Shafts were dug down through the land to the water beneath and were sealed with watertight doors. It was hoped that, if the worst happened, these would allow passage to the top side of the upturned island.

It was on the night of October 25th, 2014 that disaster struck. The strongest winds and highest seas for a century buffeted the coast of Wales. Thousands of people swung out on trapezes over the Irish Sea in the manner of yachtsmen, to counterbalance the forces, but to no avail. Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Durham sank beneath the waves, while Milford Haven hurtled nearly four hundred miles through the night sky to land upside-down in the North Sea.

Millions escaped via the emergency shafts, though in the confusion many watertight doors were not resealed, causing the sea to flood in. Britain rapidly began to sink, and by four am, when the storm had abated, five hundred miles of clear water lay between Ireland and mainland Europe.