Stuart Reid

Rain, glorious rain

I don’t mean to diss the recent sunshine, but hasn’t the rain today been happy and glorious? An hour ago there were ancient, damp smells on the streets of my south London neighbourhood: of dust and earth and grass. G. K. Chesterton was very fond of rain. Here is part of a letter he wrote to E. C. Bentley 102 years ago:

“I have just been out and got soaking and dripping wet; one of my favourite dissipations. I never enjoy weather so much as when it is driving, drenching, rattling, washing rain… Seldom have I enjoyed a walk so much. My sister water was all there and most affectionate. Everything I passed was lovely, a little boy pickabacking another little boy home, two little girls taking shelter with a gigantic umbrella, the gutters boiling like rivers and the hedges glittering with rain. And when I came to our corner the shower was over, and there was a great watery sunset right over No. 80, what Mr. Ruskin calls an ‘opening into eternity.’ Eternity is pink and gold… Yes, I like rain. It means something, I am not sure what; something freshening, cleaning, washing out, taking in hand, not caring-a-damn-what-you-think, doing-its-duty, robust, noisy, moral, wet. It is the Baptism of the Church of the Future.”

Damn. The sun’s just come out.

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