Tuesday, July 15, 2008

St Swithin's Day

Today is St Swithin's Day. And according to an old wives' tale.

St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain no more

So if you had rain in your neck of the woods, then that's it for your summer, pal.

St Swithin , whose feast day is today, was the Bishop of Winchester in the 9th century and the story goes that when he died in 962 he requested his body be placed outside the cathedral, as he didn't want any fuss. His wishes were ignored and it rained for forty days and forty nights until everyone got the hint and they moved his body back pronto. Although apparently he got moved again and his body parts split up as by now he was a saint and the middle ages being what they were, his relics were in popular demand. This though didn't result in flooding, which strikes me as a tad peculiar. I think I'd be a bit more peeved being sold as relics then being buried indoors, but there you go.

I know all of this because, today is my birthday, so as children Mad Twin and I spent every year anxiously looking out for rain.

Our mother in (what I can only imagine was a pethadine induced haze) was going to call us Felicity and Swithina (guess who'd have been Swithina), but I am pleased to say my father intervened. In her defence she had been under considerable strain - she caught pneumonia before we were born and was stuck in hospital for six weeks, we were two weeks late, and when we did eventually arrive, I got stuck on my shoulder, they gave her an anaesthetic to which she was so allergic she nearly died, and eventually they pulled me round and yanked me unceremoniously out by my feet. I suppose we're both probably quite lucky to still be here...

As a birthday treat Spouse took the day off today.

Fancy some candyfloss on Brighton Beach? he said to me at about 10am this morning.

As I rarely stray five minutes from home mid week I can't say this was an idea that had crossed my mind. But given the opportunity to have a) a whole day with my other half and WITHOUT the children (I don't mean to sound ungrateful but it's so rare it's bloody lovely when it happens) and b) a chance to go for a proper spin in his boy's toy, about which I've meaning to blog for ages, I couldn't do anything but say yes.

The boy's toy is a Caterham 7. Built by himself last year.

When we first met he told me his ambition was to build himself a kitcar. At the age of eighteen he had had the money to build one, but not the money to tax and insure it. When his father was approached with the humble request to bolster the finances, he laughed like a drain and said, "Insure a car that YOU built, you have to be joking!" So that as they say was that.

Scroll on several years, and finally he had enough money to build his car, but being Spouse felt he should spend it on something sensible like an ISA. My thinking is, life is too short, and we're a long time dead. So, I said go for it, which I'm pleased to say he did.

The result is a Mean Machine in British Racing Green (natch), which scares the bejaysus out of me (but then I am a girlie wuss). However. I discovered today, that girlie wuss though I am, it is actually fantastically exciting doing 70+ in a car that is low on the ground and in which you are exposed to the elements. The excitement gets nearer to terror the closer to 80mph you get, and I realised fairly soon my top limit is 85mph, at which point you feel the air sucking out of your cheeks, the wind feels like arrows on your face and your hair feels like it might just fly off your head. But I'm proud to say I only had ONE moment where I shouted Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! and I SUDDENLY GET WHAT THE TOP GEAR GUYS ARE TALKING ABOUT. Going fast is Fun with a capital F.

Particularly when you get to park a car like this under the arches at Brighton...

We sat on the beach and had fish and chips in the brief moment of sunshine, before heading off up the coast and home via Worthing. The Fuck Fuck Fuck moments occurred sometime on the A24 and I did have to remind Spouse I wanted to live at least till the END of my birthday.

But to spend a day with him, in this, I think it was worth it... Cos even, if like me you aren't into cars. You have to admit. This one is rather cool...


Persephone said...

I used to quote the St Swithin verse to my summer students at the University of Victoria because it was oh-so-true. Being mostly from Québec, they'd be complaining about the "cold" weather, so I assured them that if St Swithin's day were fair, we'd have a warm rest-of-the-summer. Two of my students quizzed our "cultural assistants" (monitors who organized the afternoon and evening events of this English immersion programme) about the saying and they, of course, had never heard of it, but when they learned the source, declared, in unison: "Well, if Persephone says it's so, it must be so!" It was then I realized I'd achieved some degree of notoriety.

Many happy returns of the day. I trust there will be chocolate...

pierre l said...

Happy Birthday. And the Caterham Seven is indeed very cool.

Jane Henry said...

Ha! Persephone no wonder we get on so well.... If you ever go to Winchester, you must visit his tomb. The story I heard as a child was that the rain washed his body to the place where he wanted to rest, but wikipedia is far more prosaic.

Thank you I had a lovely birthday. No chocolate actually, but I am one of the few women in the world who isn't that fussed about it.

Now red wine is another matter....

Pierre L, thank you for birthday wishes, and yes, the car is the epitome of cool. Shame we're not...

Political Umpire said...

Happy birthday Jane and Twin!

Flatmate of my ex-girlfriend went out with a chap who had a Lotus 7 replica - watch for the exhaust pipe running alongside, that was a trip to the hospital for her and a hot date of the wrong sort.

British Racing Green was chosen during the Gordon Bennett (the very same) Motor Racing competition because the French, Germans and Italians had taken the normal British national colours already. As the next race was in Ireland the British chose green out of respect for the Irish hosts (something slightly rare in those days I'm given to understand).

Not sure I should ask about what constitutes "The Fuck Fuck Fuck moments" on the A24!

Jane Henry said...

Thank you PU.

The hot exhaust pipe problem has been duly noted...

Didn't know that about British racing green, but I DO think it looks really smart.

And the Fuck Fuck Fuck moments were reserved for overtaking a van at speed. I think I also probably shut my eyes... The trouble with going out in a car like the Caterham is everyone is suddenly a boy racer, even the white van man carrying grass cuttings down a suburban street...

Anonymous said...

Am glad you had such a good trip - beats my finance meeting hands down.

By the way, I always thought Bonaventura was on the cards, it being St Bonaventure's day too...

That would have made us Bonny and Swithy

Thank God common sense prevailed.


PS Eldest cheered me up no end yesterday because she said age should only be counted on the hours one is awake. On that basis we are 21.5 which is a perfect age to be going to Brighton in a Caterham 7 sans children

Mad Twinx