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In York

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I lost my watch in York last Tuesday, somewhere between the Shambles car park and Betty’s cafe on Davygate. It was raining, my two-year-old son ‘needed’ to be carried, my backpack was slipping off my shoulder, the streets were heaving with Christmas shoppers. It wasn’t until I was queuing for lunch and wondered what the time was that I realised my watch was missing. I retraced my steps but unsurprisingly didn’t find it. The odd glinting object in the gutter was only a half-eaten packet of mints or a condom wrapper. The watch was a 21st birthday present from my parents; I’d had it for nearly 18 years. Both keepers had fallen off the strap weeks ago, and I’d been meaning to replace them, but hadn’t got round to it because the watch stayed on my wrist OK without them, until it didn’t.

Like much of the city centre, the Shambles car park ‘is currently inaccessible due to the recent floods in York. All the cars that are currently parked in the car park remain safe and secure.’

‘Mr Cameron is facing a tide of public anger,’ the Yorkshire Post reported on Monday, ‘after it emerged that the government dug deep last December to finance a £300 million scheme to protect the Thames Valley after previously rejecting a £180 million scheme to safeguard 4500 homes in Leeds city centre, one of the areas worst affected by the Christmas deluge.’ The estimated cost of the floods is approaching £6 billion.

Interviewed on the BBC News at Ten on Sunday night, Cameron had stressed the ‘fantastic’ work being done by ‘our armed forces’ to help the people who’d been flooded out of their homes. The rest of the report dutifully followed the prime minister’s script, interviewing cheerful army officers, and shocked residents who’d never seen the rivers so high, and talking in vague terms about climate change, but studiously avoiding the question of whether the government could have done more to protect people from the consequences of ‘unprecedented’ rainfall.

The height of the rivers may be unprecedented, but it isn’t unexpected. In the first of its new five-yearly Climate Change Risk Assessments, published in 2012, Defra outlined the hazards facing the UK: flooding, drought, supply chain disruption, flooding, disease, higher energy demand, flooding and more flooding.

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