Musings At A Bus Stop

Shelter. That’s maybe all man has ever wanted. Shelter; warmth; food.

I’m huddled beneath a bus stop in what I regard the centre of my town. It’s not the town centre, so to speak, maybe not even the exact geographical centre, but historically, and spiritually, I think it’s the centre.

And even spiritual centres have bus stops.

A heavy rain has swept in from the coast, tail-end of a hurricane, no less, and I’m here, having emerged from the warmth of the library, watching a river of litter and leaves pass by on their mission to clog the drains.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m waiting for a bus. I’m stood at a bus stop, after all. But no, I’m waiting for my wife to pick me up, this was just the nearest spot to stand out of the rain. I hope a bus doesn’t arrive, that would be awkward.

Have you ever seen children in a supermarket? Young children, I mean. If there is one walking down the aisle, say with his or her Mum, and another child turns into the aisle, they stand there checking each other out. A bit like dogs do. Without the sniffing, of course. Neither smiling nor speaking, they just stand there, sizing each other up.

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about this now, it’s not like I’ve even been to the supermarket, but anyhow, here’s my wife, pulling up, windscreen wipers going ten to the dozen.

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Rain Reigns, Sayeth The Poets

For those of you who have my book Heading North, you may be familiar with the first sentence of the foreword:

I am a northern guy.

For those of you who don’t have the book, I have a feeling that you can read the foreword over on Amazon for free. I haven’t checked this, though, so don’t hold me to it.

As a northern guy, in particular a Mancunian, I have become quite accustomed to rain. We have many ways of describing the types of rain that we experience (by types read measures):

it’s spitting 

it’s drizzling

it’s pouring 

it’s chucking it down

it’s pissing down

(And you wonder that I’m a poet?)

I’m sure there are many more, such is the rich, colloquial tongue of my local bards, but these are the most common refrains.

From around lunchtime today our old, precipitous friend rolled in, on this-the final day before the looooong school summer holidays. I hope the kids do get some good weather, especially for my own sanity, but, as a northern guy, I have a confession to make:

I have learned to love the rain.

Really.

My friends think me insane, but this is the weather that I have learnt to associate with home. Returning from sun-kissed lands and arid deserts, the slow transition from blue skies to slate-grey cloud outside the airplane, water gathering on the panes, serves as the welcome herald of north-west England, the hilly ground in which my roots are sunk deep.

Who doesn’t love to watch a deluge, or feel rain on your upturned face on a balmy day? Or sit calmly reading on a stormy night, torrential downpours battering the house?

And there is one more boon: our wet summers help to deter the into-early-hours garden parties and roaring quad bikes that disturb the neighbourhood and keep the kids awake.

I know, I know – I’m getting old.

Bet that rain isn’t good for rheumatism.

Thought For The Day

(After a sudden storm hit when getting the kids from school.)

Even in my postie days, that was the worst downpour I’ve ever been in. What I learnt from it was: 1. James is delusional. He expected Millie and I to go for a walk around Middleton for forty-five minutes while he played football in the hall. 2. People who sell waterproof clothing need to be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act. 3. Being in such a deluge, when a car passes you on the junction of Windermere Rd and Wood Street and the splash it gives you is so high it actually goes in your face and over your head, you don’t feel any wetter.

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And THAT is the result of today’s school run!

Rain. Damn It. Rain.

And what a waterlogged, rain sodden, school run it was this morning too.

The kids had their wellies on, each clutching an umbrella with all the faith of the staunchest Catholic. The elements were against us, the wind conspiring to send the rain in at an angle to try and breach the children’s defences. An odd crosswind attempted to deflect the flimsy but holding canvas covers away. But despite everything, we were doing okay.

Until four year old James tripped and sprawled forward into a large puddle. He remained kneeling in it, staring in dismay at his hands semi-submerged beneath the water, waiting to be hoisted up again as I got to him.

Again, that certitude of faith.

His trousers would need wringing out like a wet cloth in the classroom, and now there were tears and dirt to add to everything else. School days are traumatic, you know.

We finally arrived at the school and I dispatched brother and sister into the welcoming care of their teachers, radiator space at a premium. Turning back to face the downpour again, I began the journey back home. Head lowered, I was acutely aware that I was carrying the two umbrellas my children had used. I could always, you know, use one of them. Couldn’t I?

One was a Frozen umbrella (how apt) and one was a Dora The Explorer one. What would it matter if somebody spotted me skipping along beneath one of these colourful characters? As long as I was protected. It’s not like I have any street cred anyway.

But no. I continued on my way, umbrellas tucked beneath my arm, head bowed, hat flopping down over my eyes like a used chamois leather.

I know. I was vain. And wet.

Everyone else was using one, while it was raining cats and, you know.

Everybody else was using one, while it was raining cats and, you know.