It’s Raining Cataracts

There’s nothing between the back of our house and the coast so when it rains the house tips and lists and handfuls of weather rattle on the windows like pebbles. It’s wonderful. I leave the curtains open to get a better effect.

But there is the walking to school which is not so entertaining. We have made the decision not to get out the car because “it’s only a few days a year” and once that precedent is set… Look, guys, we say – it’s a bit of rain. Wind. All you need is the right clothing and a bit of push. Quite a lot of push when you are very small and the wind is enough to lift you off your feet and grab your umbrella out of your hands.

We ready ourselves like a little army, checking gear, counting hats and bags and pairs of shoes to go on after wellies at the other end.

This is all especially hard for (this is the pseudonym) Joey who hates rain and wind. I think it is the random nature of the rain and the wind which just bounces around him like a sugar-rushed puppy snapping at his coat and yipping in his ear. His hands get cold. It is all very uncomfortable and this is one of those areas in which he does not understand that the weather is beyond our control. It is all part of the chaos we strange Normal People choose to live with and inflict on him.

Yesterday I picked him up from school and he was shivering. He didn’t want his coat on. He didn’t want a hat. At times like these hats and coats are added sensual assaults. I was wearing my favourite hat. It is ridiculously furry and warm. I cannot manage when my head is cold. I could wander around in a t-shirt in sub-zero temperatures but I would need a good hat. The lack of a good hat really does make me cry. I wear it most of the year because “warm” to me, is “pretty cold”. I knew if I could get my hat on Joey’s head for a second he would feel much better, but I had to get it on.

Fed photographing a mirror she was thinking of buying at auction. In the hat.

So there’s me, in the playground, wrestling a large, furry, woman’s hat onto my small, resistant and squealy son, in the school playground at pick-up time. I am not sure if this was before or after the Ofsted Inspectors had left. (Oh yes. We did.) He pushed and squealed and I do the thing I normally have to do of ignoring what it might all possibly look like and doggedly pursue what I know has to be done.

Once upon a time, when he was a toddler, this was the sort of scene that would draw a vocal crowd. “What are you doing to him?” “I’m… erm… looking after him.” In those days: “What’s wrong with him?” “Well, I don’t know…” There was never, in any of these encounters, an offer of help.

A few times I have yelled at people who do this which must look very classy.

Though once – once – I was at a bus stop in Finsbury Park, Gateway to All Sorts of Places That are Less Ugly and all three kids were being their usualness at my knees. Noisy. A woman came up to me and I readied myself, I tend to look down during these encounters. Just look at the floor. It makes it go quicker. And this woman said: “Hi. I just wanted to say… I love watching you with your kids. You’re great together.”

And I don’t think I said anything at all – I had no defence for that at all.

She was Australian, wouldn’t you know.

I got my hat on Joey’s head and I was right he stopped, he loved it. That hat is magic. He pulled it down over himself (it is a full-body hat) and we were fine, in fact, until half an hour later he took it off and gave it back because he was too hot.

I am not very good at all this. Jonathan makes up for my gaps. The day he took them to school in the howling rain he discovered at the other end of their brave trek that wellies had leaked and the boys who had been exhorted to be brave and not complain, had not mentioned the water seeping into their boots. After noisily shucking their wellies off their wet feet, their socks dripped, but Jonathan – who does these things properly and quietly and without looking at the floor, who looks a thing in the eye and only then decides whether it is a problem – had a pocketful of dry socks.


I have been a while away from the blog because I am finishing my book… in fact so near to that I am now thinking about the next. I really must learn to do several things at once.


16 thoughts on “It’s Raining Cataracts

  1. Fabulous. I’ve missed your blogs, but you’ve been right to stay away – you have nearly finished your book, hurrah and well done (though how I envy you). Here’s wishing you a pocketful of dry socks and all the warm hats you ever need. xxx B

  2. Lovely lovely lovely and I await your book.
    Today we were, dare I say ‘driving’ to school and were groaning about the weather and Ant said ‘It is a miserbale day!’ and Olive piped up and said ‘It is not a miserable day it just happens to be raining’! x

  3. Marry me. Wait, you can’t – obviously. Ok be MY mum. But you’re younger than me. Ok, be my sister. I could not imagine a greater privilege…other than to be one of your boys, loved by you, in the rain…

  4. You’re a star. Pretty special mum by the sounds of things and, boy (or f**k as Emma would say), can you write. Phrases like ‘the wind which just bounces around him like a sugar-rushed puppy snapping at his coat and yipping in his ear’ make me gasp. (Not sure about the ‘just’, though. 🙂 ) Lovely jubbly.

    • You make me laugh. And you are probably right about ‘just’. I will now do a count on my MS and see how often it appears. That and opening a sentence with ‘How…’ Habits. Tsk tsk.
      Thanks DB x

      • ‘just’ is one of those words that I just keep putting in and just don’t notice till the 10th readthrough and then I think, darn it, ‘just’ just keeps creeping in, why does it do that, I just never learn.
        (The above is just a first draft.)

  5. This weather’s great, isn’t it? -when it gets stormy enough and the shipping forecast goes into double figures, it’s like time out. I really hate getting a cold head though. I have an intensely practical mountain hat, but it looks so serious that I only dare wear it when up mountains. Now looking for one as funky as yours.
    Katie steadfastly refuses to wear weatherproof clothing, these days. I’m convinced she’ll get hypothermia on the way to school. She’s convinced I worry too much.

  6. …you can understand the shipping forecast!!… of course! I am so envious. That’s like telling me you can read Tolstoy in Russian… to me the shipcast is lyrical, meditative nonsense.
    It is our lot to worry. That sometimes seems to be the entire job. That and the job of trying to stop worrying.

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