Tuesday, 17 April 2012

April showers (and drought, obviously)...

A very high tide © Mellifluous Dark
There has been talk of drought in these here parts. And, since the hosepipe ban that started at the beginning of April, it has rained and showered and been sharply sunny in London. We have had thunder, lightning, hail, pelting rain, drizzle, sunshine, wind, stillness, blue skies, soft breezes and blankets of grey cloud – all in the space of two days. L has had a crash course in British weather; happily, she is fascinated by storms, as am I. There is nothing quite like the majesty of a dark grey cloud that comes hurtling across the sky to make you remember that we are just the equivalent of little ants on this planet. Thunderstorms and the sea quickly convey our vulnerability and create (in me at any rate) a longing for tea and hot, buttered toast, or full-bodied red wine depending on the time of day. Oh, and let's not forget the Thames, which is a short distance from where I sit. Soon, the tide will be high; it will destroy unwary car-parkers, seep through some doorways and cut off roads and pathways. The spring tides are quite dramatic and strangely hypnotic – you just stare and stare at the water swelling and creeping higher. Only a fool would underestimate the strength and quiet power of this winding river. It is not a safe place for a quick dip.

(Pic: guardian.co.uk)
I recall the drought of 1976 though I was but a youngster at primary school. Normally damp southern English earth was covered in cracks like the patterns on a giraffe. The heat was searing. My mum took a trip to South America to visit some of our family and dad painted the outside of the garage, his skin growing darker by the hour. It was hotter, on occasion, back here. The plants were dehyrated and water was reserved for drinking, washing dishes and clothes, and bathing. This year's drought, so far, sees a perfect concoction of a fledgling plant's needs met, what with the sun and water alternating that makes getting ready in the morning confusing – and even more time consuming.

he changeability of British weather – where I live, at any rate – gives me an excuse for my dozens of pairs of shoes and boots, my many coats and clothes for all seasons that bulge in a minimalist's nightmare of a wardrobe. Who are these people who can be so confident of the seasons in England that they manage to vacuum pack their winter/summer clothes away once the relevant season has supposedly passed? I've given up my longing for a capsule wardrobe. Why introduce more stress into your life? It's fun to have to take an umbrella and coat, and wear at least five layers in case the weather changes. Isn't it? L has several little coats and jackets piled on to the banister, and a small selection of footwear of varying permeability. Even if it is fiercely sunny, I'll shove a waterproof thing in my bag, because, well, who am I to know, eh? All those summer days where people have gone to work wearing flip-flops and come home with stains where the rain has bled the dye and washed their feet with London pavement water, just wouldn't be the same (just one of many reasons why flip-flops should be banned on the commute to work/at work). And, what on earth would we talk about? The economy? Nah. Too predictable by half (or three-and-a-half per cent – if we want to bring inflation into it!).

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