Maybe I’ve got it wrong, I considered. Maybe it is Ben Ainslie who is going to carry the torch. At least he won’t be fazed by a little water, since he is practically a Merman. I admired his full page b&w endorsement of sunglasses in the How To Spend It section of The Financial Times, with his sexy stubble.
I like cool shades as much as I like cool dudes. My optician advised me to wear sunglasses, even in the rain, as you could still be affected by glare. A medic had commented, however, that over-use of reactive lenses was positively linked to high levels of neuroticism and madness. Oh well, they are cheaper than a blepharoplasty and Jackie Kennedy carried them off. The only problem is that I fail to see much in the murky gloom of the present summer and so I fell to wondering how Posh Becks could keep an eye on what her husband was up to, if she continually resorted to those owlish lenses. They probably don’t prevent her from seeing well enough to put in his pin number, however.
You don’t see the Queen wearing sunglasses much. Not that she’d needed to for her Regatta thingy, when a soaking band of singers stood before the Royal party and Prince Philip had nearly burst his bladder trying not to wet himself, laughing at the state of them. The old boy had become extremely enervated at the hornpipe music, what with having been a naval officer. At least the rain had held off for most of the day, though you couldn’t have seen anything from the bank side, whether you were wearing sunglasses or not, I’d heard.
I also wondered if the Queen was a fan of Who Do You Think You Are? Clearly, she is fully aware of her own identity, but she might have been alarmed that she was related to Boris Johnson. Matthew Pinsent is less embarrassing. So long as there are no Germanic links to Boris Becker or Angela Merkel! As Pinsent rowed by, with his back between his knees, did she wonder if he had more of the seed of the Conqueror in him than she did? All that barge stuff and burnished throne imagery might not compensate if he had.
As for Philip, he was Greek and possibly partly responsible for their huge deficit and possible default. However, he has always shown a good example as to how to survive a rainy stint at Balmoral, or wherever. You’ve got to admire the man’s resilience: all those damp corgis and midge-infested puddles! Still, the water is soft in Scotland and gentle in a good malt. So there are compensations. But even a stalwart such as he had to be hospitalised after his thorough soaking. The medics didn’t tell him there was no such thing as a chill or invite him to phone NHS Direct. He’s probably got BUPA.
Water- there is so much of it about this summer, I concluded. People used to say when I was younger that I had so much enthusiasm that I could have bottled it. Now, with all the talk of water meters and reservoir repairs and Victorian pipework renovation there was a certainty that prices would rise. The fashionable thing was to dig a bore hole. I could produce my own label: Suttonford Soft – straight from Izaak Walton chalkstreams. In smaller print: culled from the countryside of the Compleat Angler. Maybe Alan Titchmarsh could launch it. He seemed to be everywhere. Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver might take a few bottles for their local eateries. It would be good to exploit the stuff that was ruining my life. Maybe I could light a candle to St Swithun in Winchester Cathedral, begging for financial success, and, as a back-up, apply to The Bank of Dave for a handout. If Theo is to be let down by his investment in Dyas, he may be interested in-say-a 40% stake for £100,000, reducing to 10% after three years of unmitigated success. The thought of Duncan Ballantyne and Peter Jones fighting it out for my attention gratifies me. Step back, Deborah Meaden.
Hello! I blinked. I’d wakened up and found that it was St Swithun’s Day. Perversely, it wasn’t raining-at the moment- I qualified. I was getting into the swing of Mark Tully’s aquatic compilation of watery readings on Something Understood on Radio 4 with the joys of The Raindrop Prelude. One had to admit that Tully compiles an interesting melange. He included Longfellow on the dreariness of rain, protesting that behind the clouds, the sun still shone. Yeah, right. Maybe through a Flybe porthole, but not this far down.
Ella Fitzgerald had sung:
Into each life some rain must fall
but too much is falling in mine.
Now I could identify with that.
It was all very well for Thoreau to say that rain made us feel at one with Nature or God, but he was referring to the Spring or Fall variety, not the unseasonable cascades we had been experiencing. Yet I seemed to recall an old part song called As torrents in summer, so all this perception of climate change might be old hat after all.
There might have been something Romantic about a full-blown orage, such as that portrayed in Debussy’s Jardins sous la Pluie and something very like special pleading in Sitwell’s positive focus on the rain at the Crucifixion. Apparently it could not dampen Christ’s love for us. Maybe it helped to wash away our sins.
Well tried, Mark. You must have had some kind of placatory response from the Rain God after your paeon of praise for the pluie. You seem to have held it off for one day, but let’s not get up our hopes too quickly.
In the couple of hours in which the drizzle desisted, I stepped out gingerly into my back garden, tripping over my Coltsfoot wellies, which I’d forgotten were sitting on the doormat and which were now waterlogged. Cascades of rotting rosebuds and blossoms required dead heading. However, the hostas were- as yet- ungnawed. The dispersal of coffee grounds from the trendy shop had caused the slugs to limbo under someone else’s fence, in a caffeine-induced high.
Every time I type wellies into my computer, it corrects me and produces willies. What is going on? I thought willies was an acronym for people who work in London yet live in Edinburgh. Somebody is having a laugh.
It had been announced by The National Trust that this year had been apocalyptic for birds and other wildlife, but slugs and mosquitos were lovin’ it. I congratulated myself for having given them a hard grind- literally-by emptying out the cafetiere straight into hostas at my back door. (Or is that hostae?)
I tried to harvest as many redcurrants and blackcurrants as I could, before the wood pigeons descended. They were not having any kind of Apocalypse now, as far as I could determine.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012