We’ve just had a long holiday weekend in the UK and – unusually – it was hot and sunny. And, not unnaturally, thoughts turned to visiting the coast. Or they did until himself read about a mysterious haze which caused over 100 people to seek treatment at hospital. A portion of coastline was evacuated and local residents were advised to stay indoors, keeping windows and doors closed.
Two days later there appears to be no official report as to the cause. One newspaper has reported patients as saying doctors at the Royal Sussex county hospital, Brighton told them “… they’d been contacted by the authorities and informed it was ammonia or ammonia gas”.
The lack of official explanation or report does encourage speculation. That same newspaper reported another holiday-maker as saying “It’s not every day you wake up wondering, ‘Do I need contaminating?’ … Until there’s clarity I can only fear the worst and expect the mutations to begin imminently.”
So … plenty of scope for speculation, for conspiracy theories, for thrillers and mystery writers eh?
Himself mentioned the possibility of old, long-forgotten ordnance [typo corrected] – which made me think a tale of WWII derring-do, or something super secret from the cold war with potential for cover-ups galore. Of course, there’s also the spectre of chemical attack by unhappy militants, or big business behaving badly via the illegal release of noxious gas by shipping, or … well, the possibilities must be endless.
What do you do as a writer in these circumstances? Do you immediately rush to produce an outline for a novel, or bash out a short story, or do you log it away in an ideas file, or simply let it percolate away as you go on with your daily life until it takes on a complete form?
I’m going with the latter for now …
PS: the photo is of Newhaven harbour, a little further along the coast than Birling Gap where this specific event occured. But I found this rather odd photo I recently took by mistake when fiddling with the photo modes on my old camera.
© Debra Carey, 2017