In his book So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Douglas Adams briefly introduced us to a character called Rob McKenna. Known by his few friends as 'The Rain God,' McKenna, a lorry driver by trade, noticed that he was always being rained upon. The clouds seemed to love him, to want to be near him, to nurture and water him.
This made him quite a thoughtful fellow.
He kept a log of the perpetual downpour, listing all of the 231 different types of rain that he had encountered. He didn't like any of them. Eventually he made his fortune by hiring his services out to holiday resorts. He would charge them not to go there, thus keeping them rain-free.
I mention this because I think a little McKenna-ness has rubbed off on to me.
This afternoon I went out for a walk. It's something I've been doing more and more these days, as I attempt to get myself into shape. Or, rather, away from the shape I'm currently in. Circular is a shape, just not a particularly healthy one.
So I parked my car at the Heron's Nest, pulled on my walking boots and headed up the Grand Union Canal towpath in a vague northerly direction. The sun was out, the sky was blue. Narrowboats chugged along, families strolled past. And I was getting a few funny looks.
Everyone else was dressed for the weather. Shorts and t-shirts, floaty summer dresses for the ladies. There had been an outbreak of sandals. But I was wearing the Big Clumpy Boots. I had on my walking trousers and my special technical t-shirt designed to wick away moisture. (This latter item would later end up being ironic enough to qualify for an Alanis Morrissette lyric.) And I had a backpack.
At that point I must admit I looked a little out of place. And yet I strode on. Past the flight of locks at Knowle, ascending a gentle slope like a watery staircase. People smiled and said hello. Anglers sat at the bankside, carefully drowning worms. Things got a bit quieter until I was the only person around. I walked up to the Copt Heath Wharf, the M42 motorway above me a dull roar.
And then there was a little spot of moisture on my face. I walked on. Then another. And, quite soon, some more. The surface of the canal became a network of rapidly widening circles.
I was more than an hour from where I'd started, in open countryside. And it was raining. Bugger.
I slipped under a bridge and opened my backpack. All was not lost. I had a ham and mustard sandwich. But not only that! I also had a waterproof packaway jacket. I ate the former and put the latter on. It seemed the most logical approach to take.
I started back, swathed in Smug. The sandal-wearers were now struggling somewhat. They were scattering, running for what little cover they could find. I splashed through puddles, the raindrops bouncing off my jacket.
But then the rain got heavier. It was hooning down. It was like stair-rods. Even the ducks were getting a little tense about the whole situation. And there's nothing more depressing than a tense duck, let me tell you.
It was at this point that I realised that although my jacket was borderline waterproof, my trousers were not.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they were the very opposite of waterproof. My trousers were making me a current-day Rain God. I experienced all types of rain in that hour. The rain that gets in your eyes. That trickles down your back. That clings to the inside of your thighs. I was not having a high old time of it.
And then the thunder.
People who know about such things will tell you that you never hear the thunder before you're hit by lightning. Let me tell you, this is no help. This just means that the absence of thunder becomes very worrying. Particularly if you're the lone high-point in a particularly flat bit of landscape.
Eventually the rain lessened slightly, from Biblical to JustNotFunnyAnyMore. I squelched onwards. I came back to my car, now hemmed in by others, and played the 'Let's try not to get any moisture into the car' game. I failed miserably.
Sitting behind the wheel, I punched the button for the radio, only to hear a song by American band Puddle of Mudd. Ah ha bloody ha.
Oh, to be in England now that Spring is here.