Apologies for the short interlude in posting. I cannot tell you how draining my summer is turning out to be, and yet I feel I ought to try. We're trying to move to another city, we have a baby due in two weeks and I'm still battling through random bits of work that ought to have been finished long since. Couple all that with subsidence repair works, the need to go flat hunting for temporary accommodation in our new city - made more difficult by estate agents who book you a viewing and fail to tell you the flat is already let - and the mountains of baby washing that have been moving glacier-like through our one-bedroom flat in the last ten days and you'll understand why I might need a holiday after this summer holiday.
But that's not the worst of it. I look out now through my gloomy lounge window onto a world of torrential rain. It's August the sodding 23rd and the sky looks like mid-November, the passers-by appear frozen in their soggy apparal and both pairs of my shoes have holes in them. To make it all the worse, my one major jolly of the holidays which was planned for last Saturday - and which involved hiking up a hill in Oxfordshire to read, chomp, sip wine and smoke cigars with the best of company - had to be called off because of ... rain. Nay, because of heavy rain. What had we pleasure seekers to do with wandering up hills in the rain and wind?
Well, I'm off on another flat hunting trip this morning. As I look out of my window, I have quivering anxieties about the intercity line being flooded and my afternoon made a mockery of. It wouldn't be the first demonic intervention of the week. Yesterday our doorbell, which normal rings the traditional "ding-dong", played the verse of Yankee Doodle Dandy out of the blue. Nobody was at the door leaning on the button. I kid you not! That was just spooky.
Ah, well. If the weather wants to rain on us, perhaps the only thing we can do is rain back on it. 'What if the pope said it was raining, but it really wasn't?' the priest instructing Max in Brideshead Revisited asks. 'Well,' the sub-pagan Max replies, 'it would be raining but sort of spiritually.' What if, he should have said, we say it is sunny when it really isn't? I mean, isn't that how Brits from time immemorial have got through that phoney of phoney seasons called the English summer?
So, ye London dwellers, look not through your windows this morning, trying to remember where you have stashed your inflatable raft. Think rather of some dusty Provençal road, lined with lavender and the occasional rank of poplars, and filled with the chirruping of cicadas from the fields. Stare into the pall of dark clouds and think of blue skies, swooping swallows and the distant call of a goatherd. Think it once and you'll not notice the rain. Think it twice and you're no longer in London. It's sunny spiritually speaking and all is right with the world.