As the full horror of the coming climate change apocalypse dawns on the world we here at Dawdle Hall will not stand idly by and be swamped or burnt to a crisp by wild weather.
Using my innate skills as an inventor and the humble resources at my disposal I, Lord Dawdle, came up with a modern twist on tried and trusted technology to guard against the ferocious elements.
Quite simply it was the world’s biggest Airbag type thingy. Fed up with running around my stately pile putting buckets under the leaks every time we had a storm, the idea struck me like a bolt out of the blue.
It was more a case of ‘hey Christo‘ rather than ‘hey presto.’ Intrigued by the way the Bulgarian environmental artist and his wife Jeanne-Claude took gift wrapping to a whole new level by covering the Reichstag in 1,100,000 square feet of polypropylene fabric, I decided to go one better.
Although Dawdle Hall is not on the same grand scale as Germany’s Parliament it is still a sizeable edifice. Armed with my trusty two pronged Pace Stick, used for measuring marching steps on a military parade ground, I worked my way round the building at the double – 100cm per twirl of the canes.
Unfortunately my attempts at circumnavigation attracted the unwelcome attention of Whimsy, my all too faithful hound. Mesmerised by the rotating poles it was not long before his attempts to grab them with his teeth succeeded. As the family heirloom disappeared into the bushes I was forced to make do with a guesstimate.
With a rough figure in mind it was off to the stable block. Down the generations weddings, birthdays and all manner of celebrations have taken place on the Hall lawns involving a motley, indeed some quite mothly, collection of big marquees. After much rummaging and nostalgic moments involving long lost riding clobber I finally struck gold.
Looking like a hessian haystack they were all neatly stacked floor to rafters in canvas bags. Summoning a posse of burly estate workers we set about loading them onto an old horse drawn trailer, a veteran of many harvests. With the wagon piled high it was time for an audience with royalty or to be precise his spokeswoman – Lady Winifred.
Prince is a veritable giant. Standing 17 hands high (around 5ft 7ins tall) and weighing in at 1,800 pounds, the handsome grey Shire horse is also my wife’s pride and joy. The winner of many a rosette he can pull a phenomenal weight and would be just the ticket. Luckily her ladyship thought the exercise would do him good.
With the gentle giant in harness it was time for the trickiest part of the plan – getting the marquees into position on the roof. Like a lot of old stately piles Dawdle Hall is adorned with an elegant ornamental stone parapet running right round the top of the walls, behind which is a narrow walkway to allow work on the lead and chimneys to go ahead.
In my younger days I was a pretty good at archery. So, having clamped a salmon reel to my old yew longbow I ventured forth onto the somewhat wet and windy battlements. Poised precariously I let loose a volley of arrows, with fishing lines attached, over the roof. Those that weren’t carried off in triumph by Whimsy were soon recovered below.
Stout ropes were tied to the lines and hauled back up over the parapets, across the lead canopy and back down to the other side. Old car tyres were drafted in to protect the battlements and laid as cushioning under ladders across the apex. Having done sterling service delivering the marquees around the building Prince was in his element.
Lady Dawdle saw this as an opportunity to pull out all the stops and had dressed the mighty grey in all his finery. The full harness was on display complete with brass ornaments glinting in the occasional bursts of sunlight. Once the ropes were attached, pulling the heavy marquee bags up onto the roof was both easy and a glamorous spectacle.
Arranged at suitable intervals along the top of the roof and tied securely to their ladder supports the big sacks were poised to spring into action. The next phase of the operation involved a trip to the bunker. In bygone days when we had hard winters and no refrigerators the lake would regularly freeze over and provide ice for the Hall kitchen.
Hacked out in blocks it would be stored underground in straw and last right through the warmer months. With the arrival of modern electrical gadgets the old, purpose built ice house quickly became redundant and converted into a storage bunker. Its isolated location and robust construction made it ideal for securing dangerous items.
Unlocking the heavy steel door I turned on the light to reveal, on one side, an array of antique shotguns stored in padlocked racks and on the other stacks of heavy metal WW2 ammunition cases painted matt green and containing a selection of cartridges and assorted pyrotechnics. Before long I had located some souvenirs from my naval escapades.
These were rocket powered line throwers, a must-have on ships and, with a little modification, ideal for launching my giant airbag. Designed to operate in extreme weather they have a range of over 200 metres, more than enough for my needs. The casings were soon cable tied to the ladders and the lines shortened and attached to the guy ropes inside the marquee bags
I then rigged up a simple electrical firing circuit attached to a car battery. This was, in turn, attached to a wind speed sensor (anenmometer) and a crude rain gauge comprised of a spring loaded yellow plastic bucket. The idea was that a combination of high winds and torrential rain would trigger a red alert and swiftly cover the Hall in a cocoon of protective canvas.
Two micro-switches, one attached to the windmill on a chimney and another under the bucket dangling from a hook embedded in the brickwork would work in sequence to fire the rockets. Reassured, I joined my wife and 30 distinguished guests for a charity concert in the ballroom featuring an arrangement of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks.
As the orchestra reached a crescendo there was a series of loud explosions from the roof followed by a gigantic roar. Darkness descended accompanied by the sound of breaking glass and screams as windows caved in around the building. When the lights finally came back on they revealed a scene of utter chaos with canvas flapping wildly through the shattered casements.
Fortunately nobody was hurt and my bewilderment at the premature activation of the emergency airbag on such a tranquil spring evening was short lived. For lying at the foot of the grand staircase was Whimsy the dog contentedly chewing on a yellow bucket! However I didn’t have time to get to the bottom of it as storm Winifred was brewing.
It broke over me almost immediately. Gale force wrath and torrential rage forced me to retreat to the Snug and drown my sorrows at the thought of a deluge of roofers, carpenters and glaziers over the next few months followed by a blizzard of huge bills. Not to mention lashings of humble pie and squalls of social snubbery.