Rising damp

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I like the summer sort of rain we’ve had over the past couple of days. Sure you get a bit wet but it’s quite warm and not so unpleasant. And it falls on the plants and makes the flowers smell good.

I was thinking last night, warm rain reminds me of a few things. It reminds me of being on the school bus. The old L15. School buses generally ended up being the shit old tin-cans ripe for the scrapheap, and the seals on the windows were always broken, so if you sat by the window like I usually did you got little rivulets of tepid water running down the wall and soaking into your trousers and blazer sleeve and even though it was humid you were a bit cold by the time you got home.

Compared to my mate’s Prindale, with a school celebrity who apparently used to try and put bottles of piss under the wheels of other buses that pulled up while they were waiting at the Lawnswood stop, the L15 was quite a dull one. There was the day that two lads had a fight, but otherwise entertainment came in the form of the frequent outbursts of song from the back row boys. Favourites included Who the Fuck Are You and The Funky Paedophile, though the 12 Days of Christmas was strangely popular too. I also recall the happy day that one bloke discovered you could take a big mouthful of apple, chew it all up then spray it across the lower deck. The temperature of the mashed up apple and saliva was about the same as the rainwater.

Another thing rain in the summer reminds me of is sheltering in our shed in the garden, grandly known as Cosydown Cottage, or just the Little House. Rather than popping down Homebase to get us what would have been termed a Wendy house if we’d been girls, my pa got the factory joiner to make us one. It was specially designed to be big enough for us to sleep in, and we did from time to time, always being sure to take hats, penknives and lanterns. It had old-fashioned lights and a little radiator, with curtains, a brass knocker in the shape of a cat, and at one time a weather vane in the shape of a highwayman that Christian made. It was a little damp inside, and was always full of spiders and woodlice, which we tried to feed to the spiders without success.

It’s more of a storage room these days, and my mum recently took advantage of redoing the roof to get some nesting boxes in its miniature eaves, in her continuing campaign to turn our garden into Butlins for birdlife. There is now a row of four large bird feeders next to the herb patch, and the greedy little beasties empty each one in about a day. When my ma goes away, the long-suffering neighbours are obliged to come round and make sure the wild animals of the district are well fed. It’s good though – we get a lot of robins and chaffinches, and you can sit and watch them for hours. We’ve always had robins, and they sometimes used to perch on my dad’s spade when he was gardening in the winter, like they do on Christmas cards.

I’ve been writing this on my lunch break, and looking out of the window it’s bright sunshine again. Will it last, I wonder?

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