Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Who'll Stop the Rain? Not the Bloody English

Last week it rained so much I thought I would sob. I thought I would literally break down weeping as I mounted my sodden bicycle seat and prepared to ride to yet another seminar in yet another ceaseless drizzle. That I decided not to cry is due less to some reservoir of inner strength and more to the fact that I didn't want to be any wetter than I already was.

When my little moody had passed, and as I felt my trousers dampening and the rain seeping down the back of my neck as I cycled down the Woodstock Road, I got mad. How long have the British lived in the British Isles? Centuries. Millennia. People have lived in Britain for thousands of years and in all that time they've done nothing about the rain. They haven't constructed a huge transparent umbrella stretching from the White Cliffs of Dover to Hadrian's Wall. They haven't paved over the rivers, lakes and streams that inconsiderately evaporate into the atmosphere--only to fall to earth and ruin my shoes. They haven't installed complex machines to break up rain-bearing clouds or force them over to Holland and France. You mean to tell me that the people who invented the steam engine and radar can't stop the bloody rain?

What did they do instead? Invented waterproof clothing and a boot for walking in the mud, as if anything in this country could be truly waterproof, as if the mud ever goes away. Not only does the rain not seem to bother them, they revel in the stuff. They celebrate it in all its horrible diversity--the drizzle, the mizzle, the downpour--the way Eskimos embrace snow. After about day five or six of constant rain I sit on the floor of the lounge, my hands around my knees, my body rocking back and forth, a loaded revolver a few feet away. I...just...can't... take...it...anymore.

And then, with no warning, for no apparent reason, the rain stops. The sun comes out--a warm and bright sun, almost Mediterranean. You notice a hundred different greens, a kaleidoscopic spectrum in leaf and hedge and grass that didn't seem to be there when everything was a palette of grays and browns. Then there are the flowers--so shockingly vibrant--and the blossoms, their scent a thick, perfumey odor.

I'm left uncertain which is the real England but suspicious that you can't have one without the other.

A Blog Too Far
Henrik Ornebring, a colleague at the Reuters Institute, perfectly encapsulates the difficulties of blogging in a hilariously confessional posting on his site, Doctor of Journalism. It takes a brave man to admit that the promises he made for his blog at its inception managed to sound "both naive and pretentious at the same time." I don't think it's so bad, Henrik, but I'm already liking what you're doing with DoJ 2.0.


wiredog said...

as a career academic you’d think I would have mastered uninteresting by now.

Heh. I can think of a few Professional Journalists (but not Our Fascinating Host, who has that chipmunk look) who have mastered that.

mark from alexandria said...

You would think that there would be a huge market for those Seasonal Affective Disorder lights in the UK, at least among the ex-pat communities from sunnier climes. Of course, I would recommend a wee dram of a good single malt to get over those rainy day blues.

Candadai Tirumalai said...

I believe "Right as rain" is an established English saying. Still one wonders when it goes on and on.

Jo said...

...and here I was, thinking that it's been unusually sunny of late. I think this may be the difference between being here for nearly a year (you) and just 4 months (me).

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I guess I won't mention just how gorgeous it's been here for the past week or so. Sunny, mild, warm sunshine, no gnats, mosquitoes not hatched yet, rhododendrons blooming...I could go on and on. But I won't. Suffice it to say, that song from "Camelot" (May! May! It's the lovely month of May!) keeps running through my head.

Blogging is only difficult for the bloggers who take themselves far too seriously. It's supposed to be easy, guys; relax! Save the good stuff for your paying jobs.

Sarah Laurence Blog said...

Sorry John, looks like South Devon stole your weekend sun. This past month has been wet even by English standards, but don't give way to despair. Sun and 70's in the forecast all week! Go take Charlie for a walk and enjoy it while it lasts.

Anonymous said...

Do most English bicycling commuters wear their work attire while pedaling to the office, or do they change into their work garb when they arrive?

MEB said...

Congratulations, you've discovered the reason for the famous Stiff Upper Lip. If you let yourself mind about the weather, you'll never get through life. Just put on those wellies and that anorak and get out there & do what you were planning to.

Bee said...

Oh, this made me laugh -- and I laughed, too, at your comments on Sarah's "Fantasy Devon" post.

As a native Texan, I can only agree that there is entirely too much rain and that something must be done about it.

But do enjoy the rare glorious sunshine that we are having THIS week. If you were here last summer, you will know that there may not be any more of it.

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