We weren’t the only people who left their homes. I just think Mum felt it even more than most. The Mill wasn’t just a home to her, it was a dream. Mum and Dad had left Bristol when the electricity stopped working, moved into a (wind powered) mill and planned to bring us up there.
The problem was the rain. Seven years on, and there was nothing to grind – no crops – the topsoil all washed away, and flooding getting worse every year. Soon people started leaving, moving north – and then that trickle of people became a flood itself.
Then the Government announced over the radio that it was going to stop doing supply drops. There were too few of us. That was the end. We packed what we could carry and started to walk out.
I think we were all crying a bit, and then Mum suddenly started shouting at Dad, as if it was his fault. He just looked shocked. He’d been a Recycler all his life. All this warming and weather stuff – it just wasn’t his fault.
And then Mum turned and started walking back to the Mill.
So that’s my last memory of her, and the Mill. Mum standing there, waist deep in water, now; tears rolling down her face, holding her useless umbrella. Watching us leave.
Jane Dougherty offers this painting by Henri Rousseau, and the word “abandon”.