On lightning and curtains…

16 05 2013

There was a huge rumble a thunder just then, and now it’s chucking it down with rain. The thunder reminded me of two things – something dad used to tell me when I was little, and something I wrote ages ago about a storm – so I thought I’d share them both with you.

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere in my blog about The End Cupboard – a walk-in cupboard at the end of the passage in the bungalow I lived in as a child, that was full of things mum saved (empty toilet roll middles, flattened card from cereal packets, silver milk bottle tops, empty cotton reels…) and how I was rarely at a loose end with such a mountain of stuff to make things with. The downside was that my bedroom was quite often a mess, with finished and half-finished Projects all over the floor. Dad had a sure-fire way to get me to tidy my room when things got really bad – as long as there was a storm brewing. He sat me down once and very seriously explained how lightning didn’t like messy rooms, and if it saw how messy my room was, it’d strike it. The horror! All my Important Projects going up in smoke! For a while it took only the vaguest distant rumble for me to shoot into my room and frantically tidy up. But one day I got a bit clever, and thought “Hang on… If the lightning can’t see the mess, it can’t strike it…” Sadly I was wrong, as Dad pointed out when he popped into my room to find out how I could possibly have tidied up so quickly. Apparently lightning could see through closed curtains…

And now the second thing – I had to leaf through five closely-scribbled notebooks to find it, and I’ll warn you it’s a tad pretentious! I wrote it whilst living in Muswell Hill, at the end of a very hot day in the summer of 1996. I still remember it vividly – whether that’s because I wrote it down, or just because the moment stuck in my mind, I’m not sure. Anyway, here we go…


The End of the Day

The sun’s on its way down now, triggering a feeling of impending release from the oppressive heat of the day. Strange how the sky’s been so clear, but suddenly, when the the sun begins to set, clouds appear from nowhere as if helping the sun on its way down below the horizon.

A pinkyness tinges the sky and a white glow picks out the edges of the pale, fiery fingers of cloud which form a whispy hole around the sun. The sun turns to gold, half hidden behind clouds now, then perfect beams of light – just like the rays you’d draw when you were little – reach out through the clouds, slowly shifting as the sun sinks lower.

Now the pinkyness is getting stronger and brilliant patches of sky – almost pale green – appear in places. The clouds around the sun are getting darker. The whole sky is a wash of pastel shades and vibrant colours, light and dark. Now there’s a slight cooling breeze, but it’s still too hot.

It’s been an irritable day.

A bit later. Something keeps flashing outside. A sporadic police car, perhaps. It’s dark and hot. Looking out the window, suddenly the whole sky in front of you is lit up for a second, so brightly that you can see the clouds again, and the light gives their edges a burning magnesium glow. The image stays in your vision for a few seconds as you blink.

There is no sound.

Then – again, another flash, a bit more to the right. An electric storm! The air is still too hot, the slight breeze not really helping to clear the mugginess the day’s left behind.

The sky flashes a few more times, then – nothing. You think it’s over, the gap has been too long, but just when you’re about to give up and close the blind the sky once again comes alive.

It’s eery – so quiet and still.

Then suddenly, from far away, comes a low rumbling, and almost instantly the slight breeze gets stronger and cools your face.

Another flash.

Then a colossal thunderclap, and a strong gust of wind races down the street, leaping in at the window and making you jump.

And then it rains.

There’s no warning. One second it’s dry, the next the world is a torrential downpour. You put out the lights and hang out the window, turning your face up to the stinging rain, marvelling at the lightning, wincing at the thunder.

Out of the stillness of the sticky day, the storm releases you.

It feels good.

The world is alive again.


See, I warned you it was a bit pretentious!




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