Friday, June 15, 2007


Last night it rained. It rained so loudly that I could imagine I was sleeping in a tent. Every time Dan, who was in one of his bed-migrating moods, climbed in or out of my bed, I woke briefly and could still hear it, and when we staggered blearily downstairs shortly after eight, rain was still falling in an exhausted, drizzly sort of way. Patrick claimed to be tired from his trip to Wales, and angled to be kept at home; Dan was grizzly and refused to eat his breakfast. I was so distracted by having to strong-arm Pats that I missed what should have been obvious, and it wasn't half past nine when I got the phone call from school telling me that Dan was ill, and could I collect him?

It wasn't a disaster, because I didn't have much work, so I fed him some Calpol, translated a short press release for the UCI (What Pat McQuaid did on his hols in Venezuela) to the sound of Wonder Pets and Dora-Dora-Dora the Explorer, paid the gas bill, wrote a polite letter to DVLA pointing out that we had already paid the £80 fine for omitting to tax the car while it was stranded in a Trento garage last March, so please would they not prosecute us for it, failed to resist being drawn into an online discussion about Karl Popper and falsificationism, made a number of drinks and snacks at Dan's request, cleared them away when it became apparent he wasn't going to eat or drink them, and fed him some more Calpol. Then the cleaner turned up, most unexpectedly. It wasn't her day, but she didn't come yesterday when I was expecting her, and she has been dramatically late on the other two days this week. I am not sure how long this relationship is going to last, but I'm crap at being an employer, and both my employees take the most shameless advantage of it.

So I took the opportunity to stroll out to post my letter. By now it was humid but sunny, the sky clear without the slightest haziness. I was actually too hot. When I got back, self and cleaner exchanged words about how nice the day had turned out, after all that rain. All three cats were outside rolling around, waving their paws in the air smugly. I decided to spend a bit of time on Roger's office - which is really coming on quite well, you can see most of the carpet now. And suddenly the sky turned black. It didn't rain. Rain is discrete droplets of water. This was water descending in sheets, like when you adjust the shower head so you can blast the dirt off the sides of the bath after the children have been in it. Whoa, I thought, that's really quite cool. But after ten, fifteen, twenty minutes it was still doing it. There was no wind; the water simply came straight down, like a waterfall. By four o'clock it was as dark as December. Then there were two flashes of lightening, three seconds apart, and thunder so loud that Dan (who isn't normally afraid of thunder) came running crying out of the playroom to bury his face in my lap. And it went on and on, for an hour. What was Patrick, home from school, doing during this? He was playing on his computer, oblivious.

By a quarter past five, it was merely raining hard. I had to go to collect a prescription from the surgery on the other side of Bridgford, so I bundled Dan into waterproofs, and he helped himself to an umbrella, and we dashed out to the car (the driveway was three inches deep in water, but that's normal, it doesn't drain properly). The road was fine, but when we turned the corner we suddenly found ourselves driving through a good six inches of water even on the crown of the road. When we reached the A52 it was clear, and I thought we'd seen the last of it, but the centre of Bridgford was much, much worse - not much short of a foot. We joined the cars that were crawling tentatively along the centre of the road, the waters churning and foaming around us.

I am such a child about weather. There was something glorious about West Bridgford suddenly turning into an overcast Venice, and the Subaru in my imagination a vaporetto. Dan cheered up no end, too. Arriving at the doctor's, we waded from the car the the steps. "Well, you're brave," said the receptionist. See, extreme weather even turns doctors' receptionists into human beings. Of course, we weren't brave. Dan was just enjoying himself and I - well, I was enjoying it too, but 'brave' would have been deciding to manage without my anti-panic anti-insomnia medication.

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