Someone is said to have done research at one point about why it rained so often at weekends and bank holidays. The theory proposed was that vehicle emissions were generally lower on such days, allowing the wet weather fronts to advance across the country, fronts that would otherwise have been held back by the warm air from exhaust fumes.
Probably a dubious piece of science, it was a nice try at rationalising the perverse meteorology that so often caused disappointment. I think I prefer Murphy’s Law as an explanation as to why it is so often wet when we wanted it to be dry – whatever can go wrong will.
There were many childhood experiences of sitting in the car on summer’s days looking out through rain-spattered glass.
Lyme Regis was our favourite place to get wet. Sitting at the seafront, eating Cornish pasties while the rain came in sideways, was a quintessential element of my childhood days. Wet seaside towns still evoke the peppery taste of the meat and potato pasty filling.
There was a stoical English spirit that insisted we make the best of things. I remember walking to the aquarium on Lyme Regis’ Cobb in the teeth of a driving gale. Getting inside the aquarium, I thought that the fish swimming in the tanks were probably in a drier environment than their human onlookers, particularly the conger eel that peered out from a length of pipe at the bottom of its tank.
A rich vein of memories, wet bank holidays also created a sense of needing to resourceful in making the best of a day out. A friend used to say, “There is no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes.” It was a sentiment that we had reflected on many wet days. When it rained, it was an opportunity to step out and walk in shapeless, crumpled waterproofs. Of course, the waterproof coats not only kept the rain out, they also caused the warm air trapped within them to condense, so that in twenty minutes they were as damp on the inside and as they were wet on the outside.
There is nothing that so much captures the spirit of a place as to walk on seafronts, harbour walls, and through narrow streets wearing shoes that are soaked by the surface water as water runs down your neck to be caught by an already saturated collar.