SCENE: an ordinary matrimonial bedroom anywhere in England.  Bed, wardrobe, chests of drawers.  Two windows with curtains closed.  It is just after midnight.  HUSBAND and WIFE are asleep in bed.  The walls and furniture start to shake.  WIFE sits up bolt upright in bed, eyes wide open in horror, holding her hand to her chest which is visibly pulsating with fear.  The shaking stops.  WIFE prods HUSBAND several times.  No response.  She tries again.  HUSBAND turns over without waking up.  WIFE sits stock still for several minutes, every muscle tense.  Then slowly lies down again, rigid, like a board.

Everything stays quiet until the morning.

WIFE: I thought there was an earthquake last night.  Did I imagine it?

HUSBAND (laughs): Must have done. 

WIFE: No, really, didn’t you feel it?

HUSBAND: No.  Don’t be ridiculous.  There are no earthquakes here round here.  It’s all mud and slime.  No rocks to rub together.

WIFE (goes to open curtains expecting complete desolation.  Sighs with relief): Oh, good, no damage.  

HUSBAND (opens curtains on other aspect): Quick, look over here!  A huge crack has opened up, right across the road!  Desolation everywhere!

WIFE (runs over to see, then, indignantly): I’m going to check on the radio or the computer.

HUSBAND goes to bathroom and switches on radio in bathroom out of hearing of WIFE.  A nice plummy BBC newscaster announces an earthquake of 5.3 on the Richter scale.  ELDER DAUGHTER arrives on the scene.

HUSBAND (to DAUGHTER): There was an earthquake last night.  5.3 on the Richter Scale.

WIFE comes into the room, on her way downstairs.  She hasn’t heard the radio.

WIFE:  He’s just making fun of me.  I woke up and thought I felt an earthquake. 

WIFE goes out and goes downstairs.  WIFE turns on the computer, finds the BBC home page and smiles.  Then checks how many people have looked at her blog since last night…

More:

Telegraph Today

Report of 1896 Earthquake

Interesting historical account of earthquakes and their given significances, jumping from Ancient Greece to England (page 67).

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