Ceraunophilia by Chris Green
I get up one wet Monday morning and find I have a Facebook friend request from Liz Accident. It must be a joke, I think. No-one is called Liz Accident, Not even Random Name Generator could come up with such a preposterous name. But, looking at her timeline I notice that Liz and I have a mutual friend, Ron Smoot, Wet Blanket Ron as he is often referred to. It is at least good to see that Ron has a friend besides myself and Morrissey, as quite frankly I have been worried that he hasn’t been getting out enough since his release from prison.
I click on the link to Liz Accident likes and see that her musical likes are Wagner, The Velvet Underground and Blodwyn Pig. My musical tastes exactly. She likes the same films too, Kill Bill, Ben Hur and Forrest Gump. Liz goes on to list in her interests Surfing and …… Ceraunophilia. I have to look this up. It is an obsessional fondness for thunderstorms. How unusual!
I can see where Liz is coming from. I used to think that thunderstorms were just thunderstorms. There would be a few cracks of thunder followed by a few streaks of lightning, a whole heap of rain, then off the storm would go to somewhere else. These were the types of storm we usually had in the Cotswold Hills. They would occur mostly at the end of a warm day in late summer. They would be over quickly and everyone would make remarks about how they had cleared the air.
But after a coach journey last year through the Carpathian mountains at night, I too became fascinated by thunderstorms. The humidity that night must have been a hundred per cent. Although I was aboard a coach, it was just like I was in a Turkish bath. And there all around was a light show second to none. For about three hours the whole sky lit up every second or so, with cracks of thunder that might have come straight out of Hell. Apparently such storms are common in that part of the world.
Now as soon as Matt Taylor or Helen Willets begin to talk about vigorous convective activity embedded in frontal cloud, and point to the BBC thunder graphic behind them, I sit expectantly at the window watching the burgeoning cumulonimbus give way to the first forks of lightning.
Anyway, to get back to Liz. Her knowing Wet Blanket Ron isn’t necessarily the best recommendation for accepting her friend request. Ron, readers may remember, was implicated in terrorist activity a while back.
‘Do I know you?’ I ask Liz in a private message.
‘Of course you do,’ she replies. ‘I am surprised that you can’t remember.’
I have another look at the photos on her profile and although she is an attractive woman, mid thirties with dark hair and a full figure, I do not recognise her. I have no recollection of us ever having met. Perhaps this is not so important. Statistics show that it is common to have Facebook friends that you have never met. Users are so keen to be seen to have a high number of friends that they accept requests willy-nilly, in fact there are sites now where you can buy Facebook friends. I suppose this has a bearing on why I decide to go ahead and accept Liz’s request. Like everyone else I want high numbers for people to see. I don’t want to be thought of as Billy No Mates.
Liz doesn’t appear to post very much on Facebook. After the initial flurry of PM exchanges about thunder and a status about a Blodwyn Pig reunion gig at a small venue in London, I hear nothing.
I don’t notice the number of Facebook friends I have shrinking at first. It happens slowly, but the figure goes down a little each day. Seventy four to seventy three, then over a week it is down to sixty eight. Ray Wellington and Dean Runner have gone and Mark Friday and Gilda Hewitt. I wonder if I have done something to offend them. I decide we probably weren’t that close anyway. I haven’t seen Ray or Dean since we were at school and I only ever knew Mark through a computer class we did together. I wasn’t sure I would even recognise Gilda. She was one of these people who do not post photos of themselves.
Swamped by daily statuses of the idle thoughts of distant acquaintances and streams of photos of their gardens or their pets, I reason that Ray, Dean, Mark, Gilda and the others may simply have been having a clear out. Rather than spend each waking hour on social media, they may have discovered more rewarding ways to spend their time. It isn’t until Mitch Presley disappears from my list and I am down to fifty four friends that I begin to worry. I phone Mitch’s partner, Stacey.
‘Haven’t you heard?’ she says. ‘Mitch was out on the golf course when he was struck by lightning.’
‘Oh my God!’ I say. ‘How awful. ……. I didn’t realise Mitch played golf.’
‘Neither did I,’ says Stacey. ‘I think it may have been something he found out about through Facebook.’
I begin to worry about what might have happened to the others. Might some freak accidents have befallen them too? And what if I am next?
© Chris Green 2015: All rights reserved