Umbrella

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my ninth post.

When my brother and I were very small, our parents moved us away from rainy England to Dubai, where it barely ever rained and the sun shone down upon the barren desert with a beaming ferocity that unrivalled anything we had ever known.

You see, if I were to describe England to you using only the colour spectrum, I would say it was ramaadi (grey) and a thousand shades of green, with a few splotches of brick red thrown in for good measure. Clouds here are stunning, and seemingly perpetual. When it rains it does not rain as it does in Malaysia (there it POURS). It is a slow sort of rain, seemingly innocent and gentle, but viciously incessant, soaking you through in a matter of minutes all while apologising meekly and drizzling away.

The green is of all hues. Dark sultry evergreens, pale shoots, regular green of birches, the humdrum green of privet, cheery green of oak, green hills rolling away into the distance and grass that just grows and grows and grows. Green ivy creeping over beautiful homes and driveways fringed with neatly clipped grass. An abundance of green and all looking like it came out of a picture book – which I suppose it did, for Beatrix Potter did base her paintings on the Lake District!

When you fly above England it’s all neat little squares of varying shades of green. It’s similar in France I suppose but there is a foreign vibe to it there and lots of browns creep in.

When you fly above the United Arab Emirates the land is brown, a hundred shades of it, and you can see the winding marks on the earth where rivers and mountain ranges signify a land that barely changes. It’s always changing in England, for we have seasons. In Dubai there is summer and winter and a week or two of rain and that’s it.

So whenever we came back home to England for the summer holidays, my brother and I relished the rain and the greenery like a pair of mad children. We ate buttercups and yanked all the dandelion seeds off their stems, blowing until we were blue in the face. I naughtily picked the neighbour’s flowers because they were pretty and sobbed inconsolably when my mother gave me a good telling off about it.

My mum bought us two children’s umbrellas one summer, darling little things, coloured like a rainbow, and we would rush into the garden when it rained and stand out there like a pair of wallies under our umbrellas. The neighbours thought we were bonkers and their dog barked at us.

Those odd children standing out in the wet under umbrellas!

It was such a novelty, you see. The pattering of soft rain on the umbrellas, splish splash of water by our wellies, tap tap of heavy drops on wide tree leaves.

It’s funny what makes children happy.

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Love Letters #33

 

She was standing in the middle of the road, when he first set eyes on her. A light, silken shirt was all that draped her small shoulders in the icy January air. The road was wet with perspiration, and the branches bare, and the drizzle drifted gently down. Her face was pale, her eyes bright, and her hair a cloud of golden silky curls, bouncing as she danced this way and that, her feet turning in all directions and her arms moving side to side, up and down.

He noticed her first because she was dancing, but dancing is the usual sight in this vibrant city of theirs. He did his double take because of her smile. When she smiled, her eyebrows rose, and she looked almost… surprised. And her chin grew pointy, and the tops of her cheeks pointed outwards too.

He thought, if you really stood back and thought about it, she did have quite a sharp little face. But it was so dear and sweet and her eyes sparkled with life and crinkled with joy.

Man, he thought, she really does love to dance. Somebody was standing in front of her, another friend he thought, and the other friend was laughing away but in an awkward way, certainly not joining in.

Cars drove right past her, on both sides. Motorbikes weaved their way around her and people glanced at her then glanced away. Did she make them uncomfortable? He really didn’t see how they could do that. She made him so happy. He stood from his safe distance on the pavement, as the sky drizzled gently around him and slowly soaked him through. And he watched her dance away and laugh.

Presently she noticed him watching her. She kept glancing at him, and then she directed her smile at him, giving him his own little dance show. She was waving him over. Her mouth was miming,

Come join me!

He shook his head, smiling widely. She laughed, and he heard the tinkling giggle over the traffic.

Come on!

He didn’t want to. He knew his arms would be too thick and his body wouldn’t listen to him. He was content to just watch her rhythm, the way life seemed to happen around her, draw her in its flowing current. He was one of those who stood on the fringe of things, while life swept her up in its energetic arms and took her whichever way it chose to run.

Please!

A heart shape with her ever moving fingers, and then, as quickly as she had moulded her hands, she was twirling in another direction.

His feet moved against his will, then. Weaving through the traffic, until he was on the same island she stood on, the white painted thick divide in the traffic, separating one directional flow from the other. The no man’s land of the high street.

She laughed, waved at her friend, and took his arms, moving them this way and that, until he, too, felt part of the current of life. He felt it first in his fingertips, a tingling that spread through his body all the way down to his toes, a small spitfire of energy, moving his limbs without direction from his brain. He closed his eyes, feeling the cold, gentle spray on his face, and let the rhythm of the world take him.

***

And that, is how I met my wife.

The Menacing Drizzle

It’s raining dismally here in the UK.

Or at least, where I am anyway.

When it rains in the UK, it does not rain for an hour or even two hours. It rains all day. It rains slowly but surely. A menacing drizzle.

Why is it menacing?

Because it comes down seemingly innocently. You step outside and hold your hands out, and say, ‘Oh, this isn’t too bad. I can nip down to the shops in this.’

But off you nip. And as you are walking along, enjoying the fresh air and the tiny soft droplets, you are slowly getting soaked without realising it. Once you buy your milk and bread and whatever else, and you go back home, you realise what a terrible mistake you have made.

Your socks are soaked to the skin under your shoes (how on earth did that happen?!), your face is dripping, your hair looks like rat’s tails, the bottom of your jeans are wet and the wet is rising all the way up to your knees.

And all day you can hear the soft pattering like a thousand little mice all over the tarmac outside, all on the car roofs, all on the bike covers, all on everything. And there is not a single dry space outside to put your bottom when you go to the park. And your hands are cold and slightly grimy and always very wet.

rain-434174.jpg

 

Love Letters #10

Dear Amelia,

One day, when I return, there will be summer and rain at the same time. There will be a rainbow over our apple tree, and we will watch the seasons merge into each other, the apples growing larger and sweeter. One day, there will be a future for us.  After the rot of the city has lifted. After the destruction has become a faint memory, we will live again. Life will sprout through the cracked crevices of what once was our solid foundation. It has been shattered, but we haven’t, dearest. We haven’t.

Yours truly,

Dean

Unknown

Blue Water

Rain is pleasing, when you are warm and snuggly and it is pattering gently on the skylight window, like a thousand imps running amok. Rain is pleasing when it is accompanied by what you just know is bitter wind, because you can hear it, and because the temperature has suddenly dropped so low this week, but you have a nice hot cuppa tea and the kitchen is sparkling clean because you have scrubbed it down and your parents are having their coffee and it’s all comfy.

Rain is pleasing when the grass is thick and green, and the smells of life and earth are wafting in through your window on a summer’s afternoon. Rain is pleasing when you can hear it tapping on leaves, drip dropping, trick trickling. Rain is pleasing as you watch it smattering down, accompanied by low rumbles of gruff, yet friendly thunder, while your thoughts take you to far off lands, and your mind is void of deadlines.

What isn’t pleasing is water dripping over the edge of your boots, sodden socks and puddles that are growing larger and larger. It’s no fun when your clothes are soggy and your feet are cold and damp, and the wetness seems to have seeped through the very walls of your house, making it smell funny.

Rain is lovely, but not for those who have roof leakage, or are homeless. Rain is tough when the water levels rise and flood your home, ruining your comfort zone. Rain is harsh when it flies in through your broken windows and stings your face, and makes your children cry. Rain is cruel, when it soaks you to the bone, and makes you have to leave your destroyed home to seek somewhere safe and dry.

Rain is water, water is life, therefore rain is life, happiness, growth.

It is also death and misery.

Here is an interesting quote relating to rain:

“Maybe love is like rain. Sometimes gentle, sometimes torrential, flooding, eroding, joyful, steady, filling the earth, collecting in underground springs. When it rains, when we love, life grows. ” – Carol Gilligan

What do you think about rain?

 

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Artist credit: Igor Mudrov

The Summer of the Rooks

Can you ever tell when the Rooks come into town?

flock of rooks

They swarm in on the sunrise, that’s what. From far away they look like any old birds. A flock of geese, perhaps, flying home after a long winter away.
But rooks are more sinister than that. They squawk and caw along with the crows, in graveyards.
I heard they were carnivorous birds too. Which is especially morbid, when you think about it. What are these awful carnivorous birds doing loitering about graveyards? Lots of meat in graveyards, if you ask me.
The summer of the Rooks is different, though. Every four years there is a Summer of the Rooks. It occurs when all the Rooks from all over Urigal fly to the capital city of that land, and there is much merrymaking as the days grow longer, and the minstrels walk about in long beautiful gowns, their long tresses bleached golden by the sun, their voices trilling in sad beauty; the markets are groaning with produce, the people were at peace and rest. All is right with the world. Once every four years.
This year, of course, was no different. Twig was alive, as Twiggy as ever. His shock of white blond hair was positively silver that summer, the sun had been out so much. His cousin Delilah was as delightfully moody as ever, and as protective of her cousin Twig as she always was. His best friend George, the Pie-Boy, as the Phenomenal Girl liked to call him, was ever present. And yet there was a look in his eye which suggested that he possibly had a past which was finally catching up to him. His violet eyes no longer twinkled with merriment. He had started to talk about an Alex, a Lem, and a Tristan. He had started the twitchings one always knew were Home-sick Twitchings, and yet nobody acknowledged them because it was a Summer of the Rooks, and everybody was meant to be content.
Rooks by day, folks. Rooks by night. Why was the Summer of the Rooks always so splendid, when rooks themselves were such morbid birds?
Well, quite simply, the people of those lands believed them to be good omens. Omens of happy tidings, of lush fields and great yield, of fat cows that gave full, rich, creamy milk, of hens that laid half a dozen eggs a day; each, of snails that ignored lettuces, of worms that happily wriggled through soils, of fish that flashed silver in a river that was a sea of bounty, of days filled with warmth and laughter and food, of people who did not know hunger or sadness or irritability because they had all they could ever want in one season.
I wore a woolly hat, that summer.
Twig commented on it. He said, “Cor, Pegs, that’s a beautiful hat you have on”
George told me his sister Lem had the exact same hat. It was just a normal hat. Blue, with zig zag stripes, and patterns in white wool. It had a little pom bobble on top, and two strings hanging by my ears. I wore it everywhere. I wore it in the forest when I went looking for blackberries. I wore it in the strawberry fields, I wore it everywhere, I tell you, everywhere.
It was never cold on the Summer of the Rooks, so I really cannot say I had a solid reason for wearing my hat. Nobody asked me, however, so I didn’t say anything. Nobody stared at me, or told me I was a tad odd. They didn’t even think it, I don’t think. I don’t know why nobody questioned it. Not even Rob. I don’t know why Rob didn’t question it.
We were walking over the bridge, me and Rob. When this huge cloud rolled up, cracking like some huge angry beast had slammed a stone fist into it. Lightning tore a great rift in this black cloud, and Rob and I shrank back from the monstrous beauty of it all, as the thunder clapped around us, a deafening sound, reverberating around our skulls.
Then the rain began. Soft at first, then huge, like ten penny pieces, slamming on our heads and shoulders.
I looked at Rob, and he was smiling at me through the rain, his eyes were golden because he was Rob and he had golden eyes, and his eyelashes, which I have always admired because of their supreme length, had beads of water dangling on their pretty tips, and his hair hung over his face as rivulets slid down it, and he was smiling through the deluge, down at me, and he said,

“Your woolly hat is all wet”

And beyond him, I saw the rooks, crowing through the rain in mockery, not seeming in the least ruffled by the downpour.
rooks in rain