there ain't no need to go outside

Monday, 24 September 2012

"Come, my babies, let us dance dance between the raindrops"
"Fek's sake, I'm covered in stud marks and I've got hypothermia, are you mad woman?"
"And I can't see the new One Direction video cos the shagging internet is bust. I wish Madonna would adopt me."


When I was a small girl, pedalling furiously about on my sturdy bike, looking for wrongs to right and injured animals to bandage, the weather was usually on my side.  Anything below a Force 9 gale warning and I would be belting outside after breakfast, free, off up trees, climbing walls, licking the satisfying blood-like taste from my palms after swinging about on rusty iron poles.  And really, in the north of England, you're pretty safe if you prefer inclement times.

But the famed Summer of '76 was a nightmare of glaring sunshine, and I was like a stray dog in a dustbowl depression-era film, mewling unhappily and slinking around to cower in the shade, unmoving.  My mother would slather us in Ambre Solaire oil, a smell that to this day spells sticky enforced displeasure.  And we would be sent out to Make The Most of It.  I hated it.  I would be winkled out from behind the curtain, re-reading the bit where Ginger dies in Black Beauty, wallowing happily in great hiccoughing sobs.

That summer was followed by emigration to the West Indies. We had sun every sodding day.  I lost the joy of hearing chilly rain splatter heavily against the window, the haunting song of blasting wind and the indescribable pleasure of uncurling your raw, scarlet claws from your bicycle handles and feeling the prickling sting as you shoved them under hot water.  But you get used to anything as a child and soon we were berry-brown and barefoot and couldn't remember log fires or twilight or slush.

It came back in spades, though, yesterday.  Lamps were on all day, I cranked up the heating, gleefully dug out my boots from the attic. The internet fizzled out, some branches came down.  Fantastic.  The bots' matches were called off half-way through and they were as navy-blue as their kit as they dripped miserably on the doorstep.  I ran hot baths, roasted chicken, lit candles, shook blankets.

They moaned like mad about the cold, the grey sky, the rain coming in under the back door.  "You love this, Mum, don't you?" they accused crossly.  They did prep, theatrically thumping about and shivering, incandescent at being cut off from Facebook, internet research into King Lear and respiratory disease.

I made gravy and moved soggy mountains of blue stuff about it the laundry room.  I made those unconvincing soothing noises that come from a place of unspeakable smugness that never again will I have to do prep or enforced team sport.  I could hardly keep the smile off my face. Today it's still slashing down.  A man is coming soon to hang great thick blackout curtains over the huge windows in Rose's room.  The second they're up, I'm taking the dog, a huge mug of tea, a loo roll and Black Beauty upstairs to road test them.

Illustration here


19 comments:

  1. Hello Elizabeth:
    How well we remember as children scraping 'Jack Frost' from the inside of our bedroom windows and wearing a hat to bed [under the instruction that more than 20% of body heat escapes through the head].How times have changed when, nowadays, at the slightest draught we reach for the central heating override button.

    However, unremitting rain is just one of the reasons that we no longer spend the majority of our time in Blighty. Somehow even when it is several degrees below zero in Budapest the cold does not penetrate into one's very soul as the rain in England seems to do even in Summer. Still, put up the blackout curtains,wear a brave face and read Black Beauty since that seems exactly the right British attitude to adverse weather!!

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  2. Hello lovely you two! Yes! The inside of the window! Hats to bed, though, gosh you were soft and cosseted.

    Know what you mean, it does get into the soul. Not like crisp, dry freezing cold. I think my soul is lined in mackintosh rubber.

    Such a lovely comment, thank you!

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  3. Here on the stormy west coast of Ireland, we have plenty of opportunity to rise to the occasion of winter weather. And that's the thing, isn't it, one needs the opportunity to rise to the O, to contend with matters, to prevail, whereas in the ordinary run of the mill lukewarm day there's nothing to prevail over except a possible subtle insult in an otherwise uninteresting email and the temporary mislaying of one's second biscuit.

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  4. Ah, you have bested me you minx - not only does your butch weather run us out of town with a whiskey-breathed roar of fury, but there is nothing on this earth that would cause me to mislay a second biscuit.

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  6. Read this too quickly, as usual,but will re-visit and read properly when I've more time. Loved it anyway, straight from your heart and your past....hope there's lots more to come.

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    1. Anon, so lovely to see you, welcome!

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  7. Winkled out. Love that phrase beyond reason.

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    1. So glad! Hope all is well in your world x

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  8. The small one told me that: "rain" is her favourite weather, far better than "sunshine" mummy, it makes me happy. Hmmmm... we lit the fire last night, it was just... lovely!

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    1. I think your small one sounds just my sort of gel!

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  9. Loo roll. I am that phrase for some reason.

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  10. Tintin, you reckon? I would have bet an eyewateribg sum on the probability that you embody the 'winkled out'. I haven't forgotten your previous confession on skip etiquette.

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  11. I love this post, and your entire blog. This one spoke to me. Of summer days in Maine where the fog was so thick it ran down the window screens. A fire was mandatory to get some of the wet out of the house (no fun getting into a dampish bed), chowder was whipped up for lunch and all the old jigsaw puzzles came out of the closet. Such great memories-Thanks !
    Pat

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  12. Fall is settling onto Vanvouver Island and we'll soon be rusting from the rain. I loved this post.

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  13. I'm with your children's comment "you love this, don't you?". After last year's enforced elongated stay in Scotland to avoid the floods here in Bangkok we endured October and some of November loathing the wet and the cold that we had quite happily endured during our brief 3 1/2 year life in Edinburgh. The weather here is really one of the very important reasons that we live here, and even though the monsoon can be a bore, (getting caught without an umbrella, which in most cases is not much use anyway), cf my recent posts, we are about to enter into the nicest time of year - low humidity and although still hot during the day, cool and delightful for an evening sundowner on the balcony.

    I've referenced you in my post today. I'm enjoying your wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour!

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  14. Anon - since reading 'The Last Convertible' at about 14, I have longed to go to Maine, eat chowder and play with old board games. Lucky you, thanks for the lovely glimpse into your life.

    WSL - 'rusting from the rain' - I'm stealing that, shamelessly!

    Columnist - how flattering, thank you so much. Am very much enjoying your blog - I used to trade to your neck of the woods fairly regularly. You're very kind!

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  15. So glad you've returned to the blog world. Loved this post. It reminded me of my days living in England (several lifetimes ago). Obviously the weather hasn't changed. Please keep writing!

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  16. Darling I knew the minute the temperature dropped you'd be blogging away about raindrops on windows! Snuggle down in your cosy nest and enjoy!

    Tante x

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Please leave a comment if you can be remotely bothered - anything you have to say is valuable and I absolutely love hearing from you all. Elizabeth