Monday, 16 July 2012

"The Louder the Frog, The More the Rain"

Michael Fish & St Swithin.
Separated at birth?

"Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way... well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't!".

Those were the lovely Michael Fish's famous words in October 1987, on the eve of the worst storm to hit Britain since 1703. 

You would think that with today's technology where your fridge can place your shopping order for you (wish it would), a fairly accurate weather forecast might not be too much to ask for. But no. The Met Office famously predicted a "barbecue summer" for us in 2009 which turned out to be a complete washout and a "mild winter"in 2010 which became one of the harshest on record. So, what hope did our gloriously unreliable forecaster St Swithin ever have? For those of you outside our green and pleasant land, Swithin was a 9th century Bishop of Winchester. He clearly wasn't renowned for miracle-working during his lifetime as he is barely mentioned in contemporary writings (though apparently there was one incident involving and old woman and some broken eggs) but when his grave was moved a hundred years after his death, he suddenly gained a following as a weatherman.  His feast day in England is 15th July. Yesterday. And tradition has it that whatever the weather on that day, it will hold for the next forty days.The traditional rhyme goes like this:

St Swithin's Day if thou dost rain
For 40 days it will remain
St Swithins Day if thou be fair
For 40 days twill rain no more

However, given that yesterday here was a lovely day (no rain) and that I woke up to torrential showers again this morning I have rewritten the poem:

If on this day it chucks it down
You would indeed be right to frown
St Swithin couldn't poss'bly let
These 40 days be 'owt but wet 

But if this day there is no rain
And the sun shines down on you again
Then don't believe that summer's rumour
It's just St Swithin's sense of humour.

It's starting to strike me that I seem to go on about the weather quite a lot. That's because I'm English and it's what we do. Apart from a love of queuing, we like to analyse old wives tales and see whether cows lying down really is a portender of rain or whether the cows are just tired. Perhaps I am just a frustrated forecaster. Afterall, weathermen in this country (not to be confused with the underground New York hip hop group of the same name) achieve near godlike status and have even been immortalised in songs. Michael Fish even had one of his forecasts sampled by The Prodigy.

Thankfully I don't have to go for a run in the rain today. I'm having a well-earned day off having inadvertently run the     furthest I've ever managed yesterday. If I'd realised it was 7.2km to my intended destination, I probably would have stayed in and made myself a Pimms. Luckily I had absolutely no idea and so I plodded on. And on. And on. Sorely tempted to turn back after 5k to make it a nice round 10, I texted The Boy when I got there, half thinking that he might come and pick me up on my way back but unfortunately he only found the text around 3 hours later once I had run all the way home AND mowed the lawn. Or at least that's what he said.

So, the point is, my target for this past week was 20km and I ended up doing 28. Today I can hardly walk but at least the half marathon is now looking a little more do-able. The night before I shall check the weather forecast and then completely disregard it knowing that a) it's probably wrong and b) I won't be able to do anything about it anyway.

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight.....

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