Wet daysJul 29th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
“The only bit of blue sky now is where there are rain clouds that are darker than the sky around”.
“Perhaps it will brighten up.”
Looking east, across Saint George’s Channel, the horizon was a fuzzy line where the leaden sky met the greyness of the Irish Sea. The wind whipped in from the west, as biting as a winter’s day.
The ship’s master announced that he was sure passengers would be pleased to know that last night’s storm had passed and that, although a swell remained, the ship was equipped with stabilisers and that the crossing would be comfortable. It’s vaguely amusing to think that the slower ferries were now referred to as “cruise ferries”; what turns a car ferry into a cruise ship? To be fair, at least they keep running, most of the time. The fast catamarans seem never have been able to cope with the Irish Sea, and would not have run in a heavy swell.
Approaching the Welsh coast, the public address system came to life to announce our imminent arrival at Fishguard. We were told that it was clear and dry, the heavy rain having moved eastwards across the country. People were clearly unconvinced that the lack of rain meant it was summer; those shopping in the Tesco store at the port entrance wore coats that would have sufficed for November.
The eastward shift of the rain had not been rapid. The M4 was lines of slow moving traffic The electronic signs warning of surface water were barely visible at times through the amount of water in the air. Accustomed to Irish roads, clear and free flowing through most of the country, the initial contact with British motorways seems always a moment of mystery. Where does all this traffic come from? It was Wednesday afternoon, nothing special was happening and we were part of a huge slow procession. Illuminated speed limits of 40 mph were superfluous; such speed would have meant collision with the vehicle in front.
What happened to summers? Is it just the selective memory of childhood, but didn’t there used to be summers when you could go with no coat, when there would be no rain for day on end? Didn’t there used to be summers when the day would dawn with blue skies and the sun would set with blue skies and there would hardly be a cloud in between?
“It’s climate change”.
Maybe it is, but it’s not the climate change we had been told would come and if that prediction about what was going to happen is wrong, then how many other predictions are going to be wide of the mark? What future are we meant to plan for?