Mackenzie Crook

On the night of October 15th, 1987, Britain was rocked by an extremely strong, and extremely unusual storm. It wasn’t a hurricane, because hurricanes are a tropical phenomenon, but it wasn’t NOT a hurricane either, being of hurricane strength.

This confusion was reflected in the weather forecasts of the time, including this notorious moment where the BBC’s Michael Fish offered a reassuring thought to anyone bothered by reports of high winds heading towards Britain:

The next day, this had happened:

So on a scale where 1 = a butterfly’s wingbeat and 10 = Hurricane Katrina, this was a steady 7 or possibly 8, and poor Michael Fish never quite lived down his lack of foresight. He’s relatively grumpy on the subject even now, which is probably fair enough.

However, one unexpected benefit of the Great Storm (and yes, citizens of Florida and New Orleans can feel free to giggle that we’d even bother to call it that) was a children’s book, written by Mackenzie Crook, star of The Office, and the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

As he explains, in this interview for the publishers Faber and Faber, the idea for his story The Windvale Sprites came directly from his experiences on the day after the storm:

All of which goes to prove that saying about ill winds isn’t just a load of hot air.

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By Fraser McAlpine