Just watched a woman park her car outside our house, spend five minutes meticulously brushing her hair in the rear view mirror, then get out and the wind nearly took her head off.
For the first time, the end is in sight. I’m nearing the completion of the first draft of a novel, but it’s a double-edged thing, for I can see just how much is left for me to do in the next draft.
I let out a long sigh. Small steps, I tell myself. A chapter at a time.
The rain hammers hard against the window. The night presses in, intrusively. The wind builds in increasingly strong gusts. I can hear something being blown around out there, something heavy. Liable to do damage. I’ve been out once to secure a slamming gate that was in danger of coming off its hinges. I’ve put off putting the bin out until morning, it wouldn’t last five minutes before it’d be over, spewing its digested contents all up the street.
This is the first real storm of the season. It has a name. We’ve started giving our storms names much in the manner that the Americans do with their hurricanes. We may as well, we anthromorphise everything else.
I can’t remember the name. I’m sure it’s a male one. Stanley? Harry?
It doesn’t really matter. It will hopefully blow itself out in the night, its anger spent in the unseen hours. Tomorrow I will get up to find a calm, dampened, recovering morning.
I shall call her Grace.
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 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.
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.
Sorry kids, looks like your sports day is off.
(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.
The year seems determined to depart in a rail of rain and gusts. The night is fractured by the crashing sounds of unknown objects, untethered and unaccounted for. There is an angry howling around the eaves, but the house stands firm.
not by the hair on my chinny chin chin
The pale dawn reveals a community of resigned routines, a northern expectancy of more to follow, raised on a staple of storm and flood
a good day for ducks
to fly a kite
There is a woman bearing a ‘can you believe this’ grin, a hand placed protectively upon her scarf-covered head, even though it is knotted tightly beneath her set chin.
The kids have given up on snow, blinking back stung tears in the wind, laughing at the firm hand on their chests, pummelling and pushing, tempering their flight.
Throughout the town there is a weary shuffle towards the end. Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.
Still we batten down.
As fog blanketed parts of the country, this amazing photograph was tweeted by passenger Sarah Wells as she flew into London, showing the skyline of our engulfed capital.
“Flew into foggy London. Views are beautiful-this is the Shard and all the towers in the city.”
Like in the pea-soupers of old, the swarming masses below are hidden in cloud and vulnerability. Stephen King’s The Langoliers comes to mind.
Hopefully everybody was still there when the plane landed.