“So-called bloody experts. I wouldn’t pay them in washers.”   Leave a comment

This quote comes from a recent interview with a gentleman from Gloucester, who has experienced time and again that his knowledge of the river, floodplain and flood dynamics are categorically ignored by planners and authorities. Interested in water for a long time, he feels he has something to contribute to flood risk management.

Ever since I was about seven or eight, I had a fascination with water. And where I used to live in Birmingham there was several golf courses, golf links, up in the hills. And there was little brooks that meandered down, they were about six feet down, a little trickle. But if you had rain up in the hills, you could stand there, and you could watch that brook rising. And I used to chuck little sticks in to see where the water went, and it used to fascinate me to see the water going up around the corners and swinging around. And where it goes through a narrow gap, it forms like half a bowl, as the water funnels into it. I have lived on the Gloucester floodplain since 1947. I lived at Sandhurst. In 1963 we had a big flood, and I lived in an old, converted bus in them days. And the water was halfway up the bloody bus wheels. We had the boat tied up to the door knocker. That was the first year farmers had levelled the edges, trimmed the edges down. And we had one big lake between where we were and the railway line, and all the water rushing by going south.

But because he lacks formal training and diplomas, his accounts are regularly disregarded.

And this barrister stood there, and he’s one of these (he puts his glasses on the tip of his nose, raises his nose and looks over his glasses). “Would you agree with me, Mister […], that these people have got qualifications?” And I said, “Yes, I can’t dispute that, can I?” “What qualifications have you got?” I said, “On paper, nothing. But I do believe my living in, on and around the floodplain and travelling in boats at flood time, and working on the river in all of its moods makes me an expert in my own right”. Because to me, you can’t beat practical experience.

One of the things he did during the floods of 2007 was to take a series of pictures of water-level gauges in his area, following the development and distribution of the floods. Some of his pictures are reproduced below.

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