4/28/2004
 
You’re going to have to humour me because I’m British and we love to talk about the weather. Yesterday was quite something: a monsoon in London.

Because Joe missed the train to meet me for coffee after work, I decided instead to swing by Kay Road and visit Olly, Lorna and Sam. It was drizzling and grey as I left the office and I remembered the vivid image of my checkered umbrella sitting atop my chest of drawers with the mental caption running underneath – I don’t think I’ll need that today. By the time I arrive at Old Street Station I am slick with rain and sweat, making the subsequent tube ride a not entirely unpleasant journey of smells – aftershaves and perfumes mixed with a human steam.

At Stockwell Station it’s pouring. Thunder. Lightning. The works. I stand near the entrance near the cluster of people who’ve also forgotten their brolleys, and try to imagine how wet I’ll get in my suit if I run for it. I envisage a swimming pool and a hydraulic winch with which to lower me.

I ring Olly in the off chance that he’ll walk to the station with an umbrella, but he’s engaged – so I make the best of the situation and buy a sandwich at the store next to the station and eat it pressed up against the wall outside, big fat drops thwacking my shoes. The most of me is kept dry if I press up close to the wall.

My phone rings. It’s Olly.

“I’m on my way baby, and I have an umbrella for you and one for Lorna. I’ll be there in five minutes.”

I love Olly. He is the only person on the planet that I will let call me baby. Ever. It is an honour I bestow to He with the Spare Umbrella.
When he arrives everyone looks slightly hopeful at the sight of the spare brolley. We wait for Lorna and then confidently put up our umbrellas to begin the ten minute walk.

Lorna is in heels so I have to curb my man strides. After fifty meters the rain picks up; torrents drumming the footpath. Olly and Lorna are pressed tight under their umbrella. We’re laughing because the weather is so intense. It starts to hail. Sirens cry all around us.

We walk past a bus station. The roads are beginning to flood, even in this short time, and we watch with sympathetic glee as a bus arrives and sends a cascade of water over those waiting to board it.

Crossing the main road we wait patiently till the little man goes green and then RUN, but there’s a huge puddle on the other side. I leap over it, ballet style. I’m a gazelle. I turn to see Olly pick up Lorna and walk through the puddle. People in cars watch us go.

My ankles are wet – so is my left arm. I can feel the rain on my back. It’s no longer hailing - too warm to last long – but as we turn left into a side street the wind picks up. Water hits us in sheets. It’s almost horizontal. My umbrella can’t multi-task. It was having a hard enough time with “down” and gives up completely when the rain starts to travel “sideways”. My shoes are drenched. I blindly lead Olly and Lorna through puddles. We ignore puddles. The world is a puddle now, so we have to adapt. It feels rebellious walking through the gutter lakes. I want to take off my clothes and run about and not worry about the cards in my wallet, my shoes and if I’ll get my suit dry for tomorrow. I want to give myself to the chaos like we used to when we were children, when it was warm and we would play outside in the rain, giving a self-conscious performance for anyone watching inside, running about in underwear and falling over in the mushy grass. But by the time we reach the house, all I really want is a cup of tea and maybe a towel.

(p.s. Thanks for your questions. I definitely felt the love this morning when I opened my mail - and I was very impressed by the calibre of quiz-master. We rock! *Drew rocks out*)
 

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