Category Archives: Weather

It’s A Beautiful Day

I’ve written before about rain. About how it makes me feel alive. Today the rain was beating down, propelled by cold gusts of wind that made the recently muggy North London streets feel like February in the west of Ireland. I leave the hood of my waterproof down, so I can feel the raindrops on my face. In theory you might imagine steeling yourself against this kind of weather. But I feel it stops me living in my head so much, which I am wont to do too a lot of the time. The heavy rain draws out any deep rooted melancholy so that it is truly felt, but it mixes with the joy of feeling… anything. So that in this rain I am both sad and happy at the same time. There is probably a beautiful word in old Irish for that. And also the sense of being firmly rooted in the physical world, and connected to all things, while being acutely aware of the non-physical, mystical nature of existence that is almost always hidden from us. This cold rain reminds me of those that have gone, especially recently.  In fleeting moments of understanding that I *am* alive I accept that they are not but feel, in tiny moments, that they are ‘somewhere’. How does rain do that? It makes me live in the now, which means I can see both backwards and forwards without consciously having to think about it… past/future, Highbury Corner/Finsbury Park one-way-system.

But I’m not just having a spiritual experience in this rain. I’m trying to catch up with my youngest son, who has gone off to school dejectedly after I shouted at him for breaking his glasses (again). Both my boys live in a 1970s World of Sport type existence, in which wrestling is a key component of a well-lived life. The youngest – 11 tomorrow – breaks his glasses once every couple of months, but has lost two in the last week.

I can see him trudging in the distance but I’m walking slowly, as I am dragging the neighbour’s dog behind me. Eventually I catch up with my soaking son and we embrace and I tell him to have a good day. He seems happy that we have connected properly. On the way back I encounter one of those road rage situations that seem to crop up more and more these days. An old man, with two bags full of ‘stuff’, is walking slowly across the road as a car comes up. The driver sounds his horn and the old man takes offence and stands in front of the car, arms outstretched.

“I’ve got all day. I’m not going anywhere!” he shouts and blocks the car. I go into the road and try to talk to him. Eventually he leaves the road but as he looks back the driver does that ‘finger on the side of the head’ sign that kids used to go when they called someone “a loony!” Enraged, he goes back out into the road.

“That’s it. I’m not moving.”

On a normal, dry day, I would have been tempted to not get involved. To leave them all to it, these crazy bastards. But in this rain, I am connected to them in some strange way. We are all connected… at least the people in our little corner of Southern Blackstock Road. The dog and I go back into the road. I explain to him that the driver is being incredibly annoying, but that it happens all the time when people are in a rush. What about all the other people in cars and vans, about 15 of them, backed up behind. Is it really fair to them? Don’t let this person in a car ruin your day. He looks at me and shrugs. Then sighs, and walks off the road with me. The neighbour’s dog looks at him as if he knows him. “Have a good day,” says the old man, and continues up the hill. The people in the cars are waving and giving the thumbs up.

The rain gets harder and my head starts to ache. The lollipop lady has to shelter in a doorway. The neighbour’s dog does a massive shit on the pavement.

It’s a beautiful day.

 

A short video about rain from three years ago.

Crap Snow

It starts to snow. My youngest son has been waiting all year for this. “Ha ha ha!” he shouts, looking out of the window. He’s already in his pyjamas, but slips some trainers on the end of his feet and runs outside. He stands looking at the sky and laughs again, doing a strange jig with his arms outstretched. Then he stares at the floor and his smile vanishes. “Where is it? Why isn’t the snow still there?”

“It’s crap snow,” I  tell him.

“It’s not fair. I want to go sledging.”

I bend down to inspect the snow depth. It’s about 0.001 mm. Not quite enough to justify a trip to Hampstead Heath.

“If it’s really deep tomorrow, will you come and get me from school so we can go sledging?”

I look at the sky, then the ground. Finally I sniff the air*.

“OK then – it’s a deal.”

* Meaning – have already checked the BBC weather forecast for the next day.

Rain

It’s sheeting down with rain. I’m walking, at a decent clip, in the direction of Holloway Road, though, of course, I could go anywhere. There’s a slight sadness – I lost my really good waterproof jacket somewhere not that long ago. This new one hasn’t quite bedded in yet.

I like walking in the rain. I take it one step at a time – in the sense that I actually notice my steps. With the water stinging my face, it feels like a good day.

rain
Somehow the rain stops you thinking about the future. I am fully in the present and feeling alive as I pass the Greggs on Holloway Road then cross over near the closed-down insurance office. In the distance I can already see the lollipop lady at the end
of Liverpool Road.

The sound of the rain is calming, like white noise, blocking out the rumble of traffic and the chatter of things I have to do. As the rain gets heavier, I feel like I’m moving forwards – making the future come to me. And getting really wet thighs because this new waterproof is just a bit too short.

Clissold Park/Narnia Crossover

Clissoldsnow1   Last week, as I tramped happily around in the snow, it occurred to me that in The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, CS Lewis created Narnia as a methaphor for Clissold Park in Stoke Newington. The gap in the fence on Church Street is the magical entrance to this world, certainly after pub closing time at any rate. Aslan the Lion represents the old bowling green.  It's got old lamp posts, deer, an old house.  Did CS Lewis spend a lot of time in Stoke Newington and are any of his other books about the area? A Horse and His Boy could be about the Lea Valley Riding School. Prince Caspian surely refers to that gastropub on Kynaston Road. The Last Battle might be a sly comment about the anti-bendy bus movement on Church Street.

Maybe this theory needs a bit more work.

Searching for chips in the Highbury Vale Fog (Arsenal v Steaua Bucharest)

It was a midweek night and I was waiting at a Green Lanes bus stop for a 341 or 141 to take me up to the Salisbury for a few beers. The fog around Clissold Park had been collecting all afternoon and now lay in a  thick band over the little river valley that was the former course of the Hackney Brook. All of a sudden there was no traffic. No cars, buses or cyclists. Had everyone decided to watch Arsenal v Steaua Bucharest on the telly? After what seemed about half an hour but was probably 20 seconds, a white van steamed past seemingly anxious to get into more normal territory.

I’d seen some of the Steaua players earlier in the day, sauntering around Oxford Street in their smart tracksuits and pointing out their favourite Christmas window displays. "Good luck tonight," I said.

     "Ah, you must be a Tottenham fan!" smiled one (he looked like the midfield general).

     "No, I’m not. I said ‘good luck’ from the perspective of a neutral who wishes you to enjoy the atmosphere of the Greater Blackstock Road area. I hope you have a good experience and possibly go for chips afterwards. I don’t care about the result."

But they’d already stopped listening. I have that effect on professional footballers. Like the time I got Bob Wilson’s autograph when he came to my home town in the mid 70s and I wanted to know why he didn’t play against Leeds in the 1972 Cup Final but he was looking away, off into the mid-distance at Arthur’s Tuck Shop at the edge of the market place (though it was actually owned at that stage by Derek Marwood who possibly had kept the ‘Arthur’ sign up for a bit in the hope of getting some ‘goodwill passing trade’).

It was about 20 minutes later that a 341 appeared. The driver looked nervous. Clissold Park had almost disappeared. Green Lanes no longer seemed part of a city. The bus sped up the slope towards Manor House – then after the crossroads we slowed down as if the driver knew he was in familiar territory. At the Salisbury the London Pride was off and the gents toilets weren’t open. The silent TV on the wall played a tape loop of Vladimir Putin sitting down at a table before at last the football results came in. In the end I hoped that the Steaua players had gone back to their hotel for Bells whisky miniatures, rather than searching for chips in the Highbury Vale fog.

A cold wind blows from Woodberry Down

It’s the same every morning. At the end of the tree-lined bank that used to carry the New River, as you turn vaguely northwards towards the fenced off no-dogs area, the temperature all of a sudden drops. A cold dry wind hits your face, whirling in from the direction of Woodberry Down. Narrow your eyes and try  you can see that you’re on the slopes of a very gentle hill.

A can of Kestrel Super  lies at the side of the path. A possible sign that a shamanic specialbrew energy diviner has been in the area, mapping the lines between Stoke Newington and Highbury. That or a lazy drunk.