Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The atmosphere of rain

I was in no hurry to get up. The sky was full of clouds, my customers are mostly on holiday and the office is pretty much empty. I downloaded my email but there was nothing pressingly urgent so I determined to do some work for an hour or so and then to cycle to the office. I wouldnt go at all were it not for the rather pleasant 11 mile ride through mostly pretty countryside. One cannot disregard the health benefits of 22 miles a day of cycling.

But as I finished my breakfast, the clouds thickened until it seemed from the light that surely up there above them, a partial eclipse must be obscuring a significant proportion of daylight.

Then came the rain, with an insistent hissing and a force to batter leaved from trees.
And it hasnt stopped now for half an hour. Straight down it comes, perpendicular to the ground and unceasing. Large, rapid raindrops, assertive and indifferent.

It puts me in mind of my early childhood when, uncomprehending of what lay beyond my immediate gaze, I watched similar rain for what seemed like days.
A four year old gazing at the late 1960s gloom of a dull, characterless suburb of Bristol, I watched as the rain, like glass beads, bounced ceaselessly off the concrete of the garden and filled the gutters, tumbling, as I remember for some reason, lolly sticks down into the drains and carrying the rainbow covering of used engine oil that leaked from all cars in those days.
Sometimes it poured, other days it was just interminable drizzle which seemed to be too lazy to even attempt to be proper rain.

And I, in my infant state, saw the rain, somehow between me and a world that I didnt yet really know, and which I sensed was largely indifferent to the wants and thoughts of a small boy. The rain served to confine me there, insulated from the incomprehensible world, but also as a comforting barrier and reminder of the safety and warmth of my own little world inside the house, as my mum did all those things a very young 1960s housewife needed to do.

Out in the world, there was a lot to think about. I knew this because my grandfather would doze off in front of documentaries leaving me to watch and wonder at the diversity of environments and peoples that lay beyond my experience. We didnt have a telly at home, but i stayed with him a lot and most of my understanding of what the world contained was from such gems as "The World about us" and also from the National Geographic magazines he brought home from the childrens home where he was a gardener and stoked the boilers.

I remember there was a city. It was, I was told, Sweden, and I remember vividly, the atmospheric glockenspiel music, a seemingly exotic street front and a sense of "otherness" from the streets of terraced houses and even the big buildings I saw when we would take "Our Tim" on the double decker bus to the Dental Hospital periodically (the grandest outing of my small life).
later, i would travel a lot to Stockholm and suddenly one day, a street exactly like the one I remembered hove into view as my taxi stopped at the hotel. Something told me a milestone in my exploration of the world had been achieved. The rain had stopped.

And now, i am here, in my own house, my own children pretty-much grown up and heading out into their own discovery of the world that doubtless they formed their own perspective on on the rainy days of their early childhoods.
I watch the rain and am four again. I feel the same sense of mystery at what lies beyond the curtains of crashing rain.

Much I have seen, more I hope to see.

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