If it rains on St Swithun’s Day, it will rain for forty days, I ruminated at the start of July. I like that verb: ruminated. It reminds me of a cow chewing the cud. Lately I have felt that I have four stomachs where one should be, probably owing to constant grazing, so I might have to use a thumb index to find my navel at this rate. Cows apparently don’t have four stomachs: they just have one big one with quadruple compartments. Probably I have one as well, though it feels like it has multiplied fourfold. Does this make me a cow?
Don’t answer that.
Some would say that my character is not dependent on my anatomy. My name is Candia. Its initial consonant alliterate with cow and there are connotations with the adjective candid. Never mind that there are also wider connotations with some kind of sexually transmitted disease. I intended to come clean about my feelings and then decided that I would publish my observations on the climactic chaos that is/ was the summer of 2012. I kept a diary, with a view to making it a blog, but wrote indoors, lest it become a Rorschach blob, if I wrote it in the garden.
About forty days ago, I determined that I would monitor the precipitation levels over this season of unexpected extremes, to test the St Swithun hypothesis. Everyone was hoping desperately that it would be dry for the Olympics. The Book of Common Prayer, I seemed to remember, included prayers for rain. Maybe there would be something about appealing for respite, so I turned to my Folio Edition and found:
Send us, we befeech thee, in this our neceffity, fuch moderate rain and fhowers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort..
Yes, moderate, please.
While I was browsing I saw other sections which were headed in italics.
For fair Weather:
O Almighty Lord God, who for the fin of man didst once drown all the world, except eight perfons.. and :
O Lord God, who haft juftly humbled us by thy late plague of immoderate rain and waters…[yet] in thy mercy haft relieved [us} by this feafonable and blessed change of weather..
Okay, I thought. All this low pressure might be subject to change. I will see if I can butter up the saint, in preparation for his special day. Lighting a candle at his shrine might just do it. I’ll let you know if it works.
I was unsure how to head up my diary: Somethingth Sunday after Trinity might be a reasonable starting point. Then I, Candia the Candid, would keep writing, right through the Olympics and would evaluate my research forty days after the Saint’s day, at the end of August. If I enjoyed writing, I might extend my diary to the end of BST, on October, 28th and- who knows?- ad infinitum, or ad nauseam to disaffected readers.
First had been the Drought, then there had been several deluges. I had felt like sending out a dove, the raven having disappeared three flood warnings ago. The Hosepipe Ban seemed ancient history.
A couple of weeks before there had been a landslide on the East Coast Railway Line and a plucky little Scotsman had commented on how it had taken him fifteen hours plus to travel from London to Edinburgh, only partly by rail.
It had been an epic journey, worthy of a Boswellian diary entry. Fellow passengers had endured flooding, hailstones and a fire on the train –everything except pestilence, he’d gleefully remarked, in that cynical humour characteristic of the Glaswegian psyche.
Pestilence could probably have been arranged, I mused, but not on an off-peak fare, or whatever they call such a tariff on their multiplicity of mesmerising day returns.
So here is my record of the week that preceded the saint’s day and the forty days that followed.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012