A Disaster Before Christmas

I have never been a great fan of Christmas. Quite apart from the excessive expenditure and ritual overeating, there always seems to be a shocking disaster during the festive season. Something awful sits waiting in the wings to strike at the most inopportune moment. Right now I feel terrible because when talking to a friend this week I was discussing this very subject and said that the build-up to the big day was going well because there hadn’t been a disaster. Then whilst watching television last night the inevitable happened and I feel like I have tempted fate. The roof on the Apollo Theatre in London collapsed injuring more than 70 people.


I still remember the 21st December 1988. I had just sat down after a busy day and was watching something suitably vacuous on the television. The broadcast was abruptly interrupted with breaking news of an aeroplane crash in Lockerbie, Scotland. The news of the accident was shocking enough but I then realised that I had freight on the plane. I was working for a mail and airfreight company at the time and had spent the week preparing a consignment of magazines bound for America. The shipment was aboard Pam Am 103. The magazines didn’t matter but it just made the disaster seem all the more real.


Christmas 2004 was blighted by the horrendous Indian Ocean tsunami which killed over 200,000 people on Boxing Day. It was a catastrophe of such magnitude that it was impossible to take it all in at first. One minute I was enjoying a festive meal the next I was glued to the television as news of the drama unfolded. It was hard to feel in any way festive after watching the footage and it all served to make Christmas feel even more pointless. I had no personal connection to the disaster but it simply wasn’t something you could easily dismiss from your mind.

The Curious Incident

This year disaster was much closer to home. I was wrapping some Christmas presents with one eye on a recording of the BBC production The Great Train Robbery when my friend suddenly announced that the ceiling had collapsed in the theatre during a performance of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nigh-Time. I was so stunned that I made no response for a while but later examined the news coverage in horror. As a regular theatre goer this was all a bit disconcerting. I had spent many an evening contemplating the huge chandeliers that adorn the ceilings of our Victorian theatres and wondering if there was any chance of them falling on my head. I always dismissed my musings as foolishness. After all such things would be checked wouldn’t they? Clearly not.


To make matters worse I am in possession of tickets for a performance of the Curious Incident in February. The book has always been a firm favourite and I have wanted to see the show since it opened back in 2012. I have no idea what will happen now but I suspect that I won’t be watching the show in the Apollo on the appointed day. I have tickets for two other theatre productions in the New Year and now fear that I will spend both evenings peering at the ceiling.
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Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who divides her time between writing and running her bridal shop.

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