As I write this it appears that most of you over there are shivering as temperatures plummet all over the place. It never gets much colder here than about 10 degrees centigrade so I have no idea what it feels like to cope with minus 30 or 40. Hope it warms up a bit soon.
The knock on effect over here (a lot of our weather comes second-hand from you) has been a couple of weeks of intermittent but quite violent, rainstorms. The coastal towns have had it worst as the waves batter sea walls and big lumps of rock are battered into rubble.
Inland, where I am, it is merely wet.
The ground is soggy and the ditches full, fat raindrops are running down the windows and the gutters are, in some places, not up to the job. I know that most of the rest of the world regard the British weather with wry amusement and expect it to be always raining but this is something else. I suppose that rain is better than the thick fog that used to envelop London – as those of you familiar with Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens will be aware. Known as peasoupers, the air was so thick as to be opaque, this was the side effect of thousands of houses burning cheap coal, industry belching out more smoke and the fumes of cars and lorries. The worst recorded was in 1952 in which an estimated 4,000 people died. As a result of this the government passed the clean air act in 1956 which banned the use of coal and steered London towards using electricity or gas for the majority of its domestic heating. The Chinese are in the same boat now as we were sixty years ago.
Enough of that, I am supposed to be writing about rain….
It is at times like this that I am quite grateful that I no longer spend all my days building things and fossicking around in the mud and instead have the option to remain indoors writing light prose for you lot.
So from this position of cosy dryness – with a cup of tea and a generous slice of Christmas cake easily within reach – I decided that it might be interesting to think of Eleven Things We Like About Rain.
1. Obviously the first is because if we had no rain then we, and all our gardens, would not exist.
2. I often defend that annoying, summer rain. You know, the rain that falls upon picnics and mars May weddings. The reason is that without some summer rain we would not be lucky enough to have the sort of gardens we are lucky enough to have in Britain. By July our gardens would be gasping, our lawns as dry as a dusty day in Addis Ababa and our plants wilting and listless. We need and should welcome summer rain.
3. The sound of stormy rain battering against roofs and windows is always a comfort: provided you are inside and not stranded out on some blasted Heath in a King Lear sort of way.
4. Sometimes it is good to just get really wet. Not just a bit damp but so wet that you have to wring the water from your underwear and pour it from your boots. Admittedly this sort of indulgence is best in the summer when you are less likely to catch pneumonia. Even better if you do it in the tropics.
5. Without rain there would be no puddles and without puddles there would be no puddle jumping. That would be a disaster.
6. On the subject of lawns: in particular brown crispy ones. One of the great marvels of gardening is to watch rain falling upon them and, after a remarkably short time, to see them recover their greenness. Like watching a miracle cure.
7. Proper torrents of water whooshing and swirling down small streams carrying sticks and all before them. Nothing threatening, just a sort of headlong rush like a hungry horde of marmosets descending upon a banana.
8. The Egyptian Goddess of Rain was called Tefnut which, roughly translated, means “Sky-Spittle”. Her Babylonian equivalent was Ningirsu. The Greeks had a bunch of nymphs who were called the Hyades (Rainy ones). In The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy there was a lorry driver called Rob McKenna who, although he did not know it, was a Rain God.
9. I know a short poem about rain….
“The rain it raineth upon the just
And also on the unjust fella:
But mostly on the just, because
The unjust stole the just’s umbrella.” written by Charles Bowen.
10. A typical American/Brit uses about176 gallons of water a day. The average African family uses 5 gallons a day. We are much better of with it than without it.
11. The title of this blog comes from the Hal David/Burt Bacharach song. The B.J.Thomas version used in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Paul Newman was bicycling around with Katherine Ross on his handlebars. The film came out in 1969, I must have seen it a couple of years later when I was about twelve. Katherine Ross was probably the first woman with whom I fell in love: completely and totally bowled over.