Since Trivial Pursuits is always up to date on current affairs, it’s surprising to note that thus far we have failed to comment on the most current of all affairs in recent weeks – the weather.
I remember this time last year – 29th April, frolicking in the sunshine of a Royal Wedding Street party. Today, I look out of the window and it’s as if I’m stuck in a grottier version of The London Aquarium, only there’s no ‘Exit’ sign nor any pretty fish to look at neither.
The very thought of going outside is an effort. In fact, everything is an effort in this perpetual hurricane. I know there are drought warnings and hosepipe bans and we need the rain etc, but can’t it fall solely on the fields and lakes where it’s needed and let that be the end of it?
To go out in the rain today, is to imagine yourself, a gladiator dressing for war.
I have a speech prepared and everything. It goes like this:
My name is Maximus Decimus MeRAINius, commander of the Armies attached to my body, General of the Feet that guide me, loyal servant to the true weather, Sunshineus Brightius. Father to a murdered umbrella, husband to a sodden shoe. And I will have my vengeance, on this walk or the next.
That done, I don my robes of war, or rather, the red feathered Puffa of Conflict (with hood). Care I that once in it I’m oft confused for a Smurf – or worse, the Michelin man? No. Suits of armour aren’t supposed to look cool – just formidable. Which I do when I’m in it. A bit like a round tomato also, but that’s ok because I like pizza.
Coat zipped and hood clipped, I look around for my battle shoes. This is the trickiest part for I do not own a pair that keep out water. Whilst all my trainers have rubber soles, the tops are made of canvas. They soak up water faster than a sheet of Plenty. My suede boots must have a hole in there too, for they only have to look at the rain before they start ‘sogging’ from the inside. Why someone can’t just invent a pair of waterproof shoes I’ve no idea.
Usually I choose the nearest pair to the door. Today, it’s my Converse. Once laced, I secure the final part of my armour (and arguably the most important) my shield – the blue Dunlop umbrella of gigantic proportions. I fix it to my hand, let out a battle growl [Grrrrrr] and then… then I open the door.
As the lorry speeds off, I spy some toothless minion at the wheel, smirking.
Retreating sheepishly, I slap myself round the face. Buck up you coward and get back out there.
A quick change of shoes and I’m ready to go. Re-opening the front door (with caution this time) I shove my umbrella out sharply in front and push it open fully to shield my body.
What a save! Sayonara taxi, well done me!
Slightly unfortunate that in shielding myself I accidentally manage to thwack a pedestrian. That they then bore the brunt of the puddle is not exactly ideal – not to mention the watery rebound from my umbrella as well. But come now, I’ve no time to worry about that. They know the code – in slippery conditions the rule of ‘Brit’ states: it’s every man for themselves and that’s final.
I grunt an apology and trudge off down the road. I must look very soldierish indeed, for my iPod has chosen this precise moment to play Hans Zimmer’s “Barbarian Horde”. Not a coincidence at all, it’s fate.
“Max-i-mus, Dec-i-mus-, Me-RAIN-ius…“ I mutter.
Feeling strong and determined, I look up at passing scaffolding and clock builders peering down at me with amusement. Pointing their fingers, they laugh and they leer, but I can’t hear what they say and in truth, I don’t care – I turn up my iPod instead.
Making swift progress, I am proud of my umbrella manoeuvring skills and in fact, quite enjoy the process – oops, now to the left, yikes, now to the right – like a Samuari thrashing his sword.
At one point I glance beside me and note a fellow warrior attempting the same. Not half so skilled as I, it saddens me to see him double over. His tie flaps wildly over his shoulder, like the ears of a dog with its head out the window, and his is face contorted with rage. I try not to laugh but it’s actually quite funny – he’s breaking wind, surely, not fighting it.
Adding further insult to injury, the inevitable then happens. All it takes is a SWOOSH and my poor friend goes flying. Tearing across the street I watch him cling to his inverted umbrella (or whatever, his ‘kite’) like a 16th century dowser, near water.
I stop for a minute, but with little time to spare, I know that I have to continue. My destination’s nearby and I hardly dare think it, but bingo, I think I might make it. Right on cue, my mind-reading iPod roars “Barbarian Horde” to crescendo (10 mins, 14 seconds, in case you’re interested):
“Play it, Hans”
Dumdum-de-DUM! [crash] Dumdum-de-dum!
Dumdum-de-DUM! [bang] Dumdum-de…
I squelch my way upstairs to my office, wondering quite how I had managed to miss the Atlantic on the doorstep all these years. My trousers are sucking up water from foot to knee and I know I’ve found my vocation. I shall make millions, I’m certain. Yes, millions from the invention of the world’s first pair of waterproof shoes. I may even decide to extend them to the knee, so that no one need feel my discomfort again.
With slightly more vigour I enter my office, full of the news I am about to present. But before I even catch my breath, I hear a colleague of mine chortle:
‘Gosh, look at you, you are really quite soaked – have you not heard of Wellington Boots?’
by Beenie Langley