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1:28pm on Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012:

A Little Wet


I went to Colchester today to get a haircut and a new mobile phone (for my birthday next week). I got the haircut, but not the phone. I decided to go home instead and change my clothes.

It looked like it might raid when I set off, so I put on my trenchcoat. Sure enough, it did rain, but my trenchcoat held it at bay as usual. I even went back to the car with a passport application form and decided not to pick up an umbrella because it wasn't raining much. Then I went to get my hair cut.

"It's looking a bit dark out there" said the barber as I left. She was right, it was looking dark. It was looking dark because the sky was about to empty half its moisture content in a single burst.

WHAM! It came all at once. It was as if anyone outside had their own personal fire-engine hose directly above their head. Mixed in with the water were hailstones. I was caught in it for maybe thirty seconds before I got under cover, but by then it was too late. My legs were soaked up to the top of my thighs, where the jacket I had on under my coat afforded them some protection. My coat itself was utterly soaked. Some of the water had got through my coat and my scarf and my jacket onto my shirt. It was a spectacular piece of weather — exactly the kind of event for which the term "cloudburst" was invented.

In the aftermath, I saw people with broken umbrellas, major roads flooded with water where the drains had been unable to cope, people trying to persuade their mobile phones to resurrect, ... One woman was walking barefoot, having taken off her shoes in an effort to save them. It was the speed of it all that caught everyone off guard. That much water is not supposed to fall in that short a period of time.

It's not the wettest I've been from a rainstorm. It was worse than when I got caught outside at the wrong time once in Singapore and worse than when we were treated to a tropical storm while wandering around the Epcot Centre in Florida. However, it wasn't as bad as once back home in Yorkshire when me, my dad and my brother were walking home from town and were hit by a shower so strong and unrelenting, with nowhere we could turn for shelter, that we gave up running after less than a minute and accepted our fate. We couldn't have got any wetter if we'd fallen in a swimming pool. Everything we had that water could get into, it did — watches, wallets, shoes, underwear... That's the worst drenching I've ever had from the weather. It was cold, too (unlike Singapore and Florida, where the rain was pleasantly warm).

Today's experience was still pretty awful, though. The weather, I mean, not the haircut. That went OK.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).