John Walker's Electronic House

The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill

by on Jul.27, 2006, under The Rest

And Came Down A Fountain

Anxiety disorder is mean. It’s easy to forget quite how potent and controlling it can be during the peace of the downtimes. Back in a peak, and the brain madness steals sleep, calm and most of all, rationality. I’m so much better at cutting it off now, and while flappy, less its slave. The ideal behaviour in the moments of meaningless panic is comforting distractions, and what better than a thunderstorm?

The balcony on my flat provides the most extraordinary panorama for thunderstorm viewing. Offering about 160 degrees of landscape, the bowl in which Bath lays is all mine to view, surrounded by the thunder-capturing hills. Which means, of course, that the focus of a storm is always right on the edge of the field of vision, mostly concealed behind buildings and trees.

Tonight’s storm was too good to miss this way. One bolt that snuck around the corner was an inch thick in the sky, viciously purple, and threaded with cruel tendrils. The rest, while spectacular, were more in hiding.

Remembering my Adventure 200 yards behind my house, and the excellent wall on which I had sat at one point, providing an even more spectacular view of the city, as well as one of those brain-confusing 3ft drops on one side, and 20ft on the other (Bath is steep, people), I ventured out into the peculiarly clear air.

As I walked up, my back was to the storm. Efforts to walk backward were quickly abandoned, and at one point to great effect. The very brightest lightning of the night flashed from behind, and everything in front of me became suddenly ludicrously visible, my arms and legs lit up with a deeply eerie blue. I love lightning’s unique lighting. It’s daylight doubled, able to pick out detail and highlight the gaps.

The hill behind my house, as I might have mentioned, is steep. With the incentive of reaching the top before the sky ran out of electricity, I stomped up at a ridiculous pace, my lungs quickly burning, charged with providing the oxygen for powering a poorly composed body slopping around with less-than-manly muscles. Reaching the top, I had that horrid sicky feeling in my throat from sudden exercise, too much saliva, and a very dark sky.

I sat on the wall and looked toward the point of the activity’s hub, but nothing. A few gentle drips of rain fell, and the sky remained rudely blank. There were not even the after-flickers of its calming down. It had just ceased. Didn’t it realised I’d just walked really rather quickly up a really rather steep hill? Wasn’t it interested in the dedication I’d put in? I continued waiting, staring around in all directions looking for the flashes that had previously picked out portions of the clouds all over. Nothing. And then it rained.

Standing in a t-shirt and trousers, my cap in my hand, I realised that now it was time to get wet. It was the moment when you’re supposed to stand up, tip your head back, and just be rained on.

And it really did rain. It started off gently, then picked up to, “Oh, it’s tipping down outside.” Hefty plops of wet showered down, and it was excellent. More than anything, it was cold. How long is it since I felt cold? Then it started raining properly. The sort of rain where someone feels obliged to make the joke, “I’ll start building the boat, you gather two of every animal.”

It was the right time to just stand still, face up to the sky, and let it rain that on me. To be so wet that I couldn’t get any wetter.

Walking back down the hill (now a bit nervous of slipping and tumbling – it really is that steep, seriously), I walked past a man pushing his bicycle up the hill. He looked up at me, we both grinned, and he said, “This oueuaagghh!” I nodded in agreement, smiling, and thought triumphantly to myself, “I am wet on purpose, and you are not. I am the winner.”

1 Comment for this entry

  • Mrs Trellis

    Aha, I wondered why you were so impressed at my ability to navigate Amsterdam after half a day. It’s because *you* have no sense of direction.

    As for exploring, I make a point of going down strange alleyways and side streets. You never know what you might find: a car on bricks and an abandoned washing machine, probably. But I also have a fascination for abandoned areas, including derelict buildings and car parks. Oh, I feel some mindless plagiarism coming on.