Friday, 27 August 2010


Is there anyone who can face this wretched weather with equanimity? Trefusis Minor is the only person I can find who's not complaining. He likes rain, idiosyncratic child that he is, and moaned loudly on holiday about wanting to be back in England because he was too hot and he missed the rain. Yes, I did explain to him that the Isle of Wight was actually England, but his personal universe appears to begin and end in West London. There are many who say that the current Prime Minister would agree with him, discounting little offshoots of his empire in Oxfordshire or Cornwall.

The British are by nature an optimistic people - we're the biggest market in Europe for convertibles, for example, which after second marriage is the most wonderful demonstration of the triumph of hope over experience. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we still expect our summers to be dry and balmy, full of days which have a nice country walk with a pub at the end of them, and perhaps a bit of messing about on boats if we're lucky. Every year, when the heavens open, the British mutter noisily about climate change and go around turning off the lights as a kind of totem against global warming-induced rainfall. We badly need to adjust our expectations and recognise that we get a few nice days in April, and a few more in September and as for the rest - well, it's worth investing in a good umbrella.

A little delving around the stats on the Met Office website -and some roving around the internets - suggests August has always been pretty rank, weather-wise. The August bank holiday was, apparently, moved back to the end of the month to give it a fighting chance of decent weather. If you take the years 1971 to 2000, August has a similar average rainfall to March, at 72mm, and who'd plan a barbeque for March? I couldn't find any aggregated stats for the last nine years, but I can't think it's improved any.

If this last week's weather has felt foully inclement, it's by no means untypical. What's more, it's hardly the worst August has thrown at us over the years. In 1912, seven inches of rain fell in one afternoon in Norwich, leaving it marooned in mud and flood detritus. The summer of 1956 was also one I'm relieved to have missed - a few years ago, Paul Simons wrote about it in The Times as being "an assault course of monsoonal rains, big floods, giant hail, houses set ablaze by lightning, howling gales and miserable cold". That August was the coldest and wettest on record.

I'm staring out of the office window at a lowering sky, and at an iPhone app that promises a fine afternoon, and wondering whether to fold this season's wardrobe staple, the ineffably chic Cagoule-Burkha, into its handy handbag-sized pochette, or just to put it on, ready to brave the journey home. Such is my desire to stay dry and avoid damp knees - the curse of a British Summer - that I really don't care what I look like. The rain has completely quashed my vanity and I suspect I'm rapidly turning into the kind of woman who will wear purple in the not too distant future.

However, my real issue with the bloody rain is that it works for me like a reverse pathetic fallacy - the weather doesn't reflect my mood, it dictates it. A little sunshine means outrageous fortune's sharpest arrows just bounce off me, but when it rains, the smallest slight pierces my armour and makes me dreary and depressed, as if life from now on was going to be one long wait at a bus stop in a downpour. I can't even default to my usual cheer-up option, a blowdry, because the merest hint of drizzle undoes the best hairdressers work. Shamefully, on re-reading what I've written I realise that the rain also elicits in me the most appalling self-pity.

Someone needs to start a bad weather self-help blog, or at least suggest some strategies for sloughing off a rain-induced fit of the glooms. Who's going to start the ball rolling? There's a YSL lipstick and a Dolce and Gabbana mascara (lovingly photographed by me on my iPhone) for the suggestion that cheers me up the most.


shayma said...

I am going to ask my uncle to send you a crate of mangoes from Lahore, because they are the best and last of the season. And then I shall ask my cousin to pop round your place from Maida Vale with a napkin and a large jar of *real* clotted cream. You'll need a knife for the mango and a spoon for the cream. And tuck the napkin into your shirt collar. Slather cream onto mango slivers. Eat. Smile. Sunshine in a bamboo crate. x shayma

Linda in Chile said...

Dear Mrs Trefusis, The beginning of Autumn is often a deeply unattractive time. When we lived in Moscow, Autumn was not just about rain but also being squished onto the metro with a lot of other damp people - that and mud. We are moving slowly into Spring here which makes me feel hopeful. In this spirit, I bought a new lipstick from Lancome. It is very pretty. Imagine then my feelings on tearing off the cellophane to read that the good people of Lancome called it "Prune Flush".

Mrs Trefusis... said...

Shayma - I totally love your sunshine in a bamboo crate: it's made the clouds (psychological *and* meteorological) lift instantly. Bless you. xxx

Mrs Trefusis... said...

Linda in chile - Prune Flush? Oh MY GOD. That's ghastly, isn't it? They do think of the most ridiculous names for makeup products, though I do remember an OPI nail varnish called 'I'm not really a waitress' which made me laugh. The YSL lipstick is called Rose Litchi, which is inoffensive enough. Envious you're moving into Spring - I'm sure it's as pretty as the unfortunately named lipstick.

Sharon Longworth said...

When we were kids we'd sing 'rain, rain, go away, come again another day'.
It never worked.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I'd put the kettle on, brew a pot of loose tea, pour into a fine bone china cup and saucer and savour....stare out the window and count my blessings.

Penny Dreadful said...

I second the tea. A nice big mug, with an M&S sultana biscuit. And possibly cashmere socks.

Margarita said...

I agree that the rain dictates fashion choices and vanity gets thrown out the window. Before moving to Vancouver I would have never owned a pair of rainboots, now I own two (Hunters and Juicy Coutures) and wear them proudly.

Jaywalker said...

Weepette is very gloomy too with the rain, but he's cheered up since i got out the big fluffy Skandium blanket, specially designed for Scandinavian winters, which this August ressembles.

I'm giving in and embracing it with a giant pot of tea.


Mrs Trefusis... said...

Sharon: The Tiniest Trefusis sings 'It's raining, it's BORING, the old man is snoring', and she's right, it is boring. And by heck, I wish it would go away.

Hostess of the HB and Penny Dreadful: We must never underestimate the healing power of tea - it's as British as over-optimism about the weather. Aand it's much better in a proper china cup, i so so agree.

Alison Cross said...

Oh dear, something went wrong when I tried to post a comment.

As that wise old sage Billy Connelly once said: ' There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.'

This has stood me in excellent stead, living as I do, in rural Scotland where Trench Foot is more common than the Athlete's version.

Get your wellies and rain burkha on and drag the kids outside - puddle splashing, feeding ducks, tramping through a park.

Besides, when you get home, you can heat everyone up with a massive (and totally guilt free) mug of hot chocolate!

Ali x

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Mrs T, I say do as Mrs T did and get a taxi to save the blow dry. The rain is a great excuse for watching movies, reading novels and eating chocolate I find. Last week I treated myself to some new silk PJ's and cashmere socks - a steal on Ebay, which arrived just in time for the rain I wasn't going anywhere in. I loved this post. I know I say that about all your posts...

I've tagged you at mine if you wish to take part. I haven't forgotten your tag. I'm trying to think of seven things I haven't already bored my readers with. Have a wonderful weekend xx

Miss Welcome said...

I fear the only remedy for inclement weather is an unassailably sunny disposition. (Can't help you there as my own is completely dictated by the weather - sigh)

Lisa-Marie said...

I think the remedy is - think how rubbish the rain is for a minute, then think about the fact that you now need and can justifiably buy

- new boots to stop your feet getting wet
-a new coat to keep you warm
-a new umbrella, as it has to match your coat
- new tights and skirts, as trouser hems get soggy
- new knitwear, wouldn't want to catch a chill
- of course, all of this means new accessories and lovely make up
- and last but but not least, a 'just in case this fails and I get soggy' kit - cosy pyjamas, a nice snack or two, good books, and importantly, a couple of nice bottles of ones favourite beverage.

Universal Acknowledgement said...

Dear Mrs Trefusis,
There has been no possibility of taking a walk today here, either. We were wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner the cold winter wind has brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise is now out of the question. In bad weather, I generally slip into the small breakfast-room adjoining the drawing-room, which contains a book-case and, possessing myself of a volume well-stored with pictures, I mount into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sit cross-legged like a Turk. I am then happy (happy at least in my way) and fear nothing but interruption. Yours from behind the red moreen curtain, Georgiana

The City Road said...

Two things have made the change in the weather bearable;

1) An 8 mile run in the foulest of conditions on Wednesday night in the company of 30 other runners, through Sydenham Woods and Dulwich dressed in summer running clothes. Exhilarating.

2) You writing about it.

That said, S may have coined a feel-good classic for our times with 'Eat. Smile. Sunshine in a bamboo crate.'


Living near the sea said...

Find a cosy chair, a cup of tea or coffee, together with something delicious to eat with it, a good book and turn your back to the window and the rain. You'll soon be lost in your own little world.
Then of course, if your little Trefusises are around, perhaps it means no self-indulgence this time but a fun game involving sitting under the table in a cubby house made with quilts and you can all hide from the rain.

Knackered Mother said...

How funny, I was going to suggest eating an orange but Shayma's mango suggestion is so gorgeous, I'd go with that over the orange. The new Dragon nail varnish from Chanel is a mood enhancer too x

mary said...

What should really cheer you up is that - as I write this - it's stopped and we're back in glorious sunshine.
Which is surely the best thing about British weather, that it never lasts too long! I've had ice-creams and hotwater bottles this weekend.

Rose said...

I am just back from a very rainy, muddy holiday in Wales. We were troopers, we surfed, we watched bands, we drank tea in our pyjamas at a service station at one point- oh the glamour!

I actually like a rainy day but it specifically needs to be a Sunday when there is a lot of tea available together with a healthy supply of old films or a blissful box set like Brideshead. Also books, hot water bottles, fires.

In London the best cures I find are a really good kiss from one you love- which happily is free- OR champagne. There is very little that doesn't cure.

The sun is shining today though, glory be.

Mrs Trefusis... said...

The City Road. I remember running in the rain... it was brilliant. Well, it was brilliant when you're actually a runner, when you've forgotten you were once a runner, as i have, the thought of it makes you shiver and worry about your hair. So shallow, I know. Thank you for your lovely comment xx

Universal Acknowledgement. Jane Eyre. Knew it at once. What a tremendous comment and I'm all for the comfort of a good book. I seem to remember that the rainy day ended rather badly for Jane.

Margarita: things improve enormously if one is wearing the right clothes. Posh wellyboots are just the ticket. I'm afraid mine are very embarrassing and have cats and dogs on them. But they were only £3 in a sale.

Miss Welcome: You're so right. Maybe it would be easier if the rain didn't make one's hair look so appalling?

Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, Penny Dreadful and Jaywalker: There is nothing, and never will be, anything as fabulously restorative as a decent cup of tea. It's an institution.

Alison cross, Lisa-Marie, Rose, living near the sea and Christina: Self-indulgence is so the way forward - cashmere, box-sets, champagne, hot chocolate - bring it on.

Mary: perhaps it was Sharon singing Rain Rain Go Away that did the trick? It's been a nice week but who knows what we'll get at the weekend. Reminds me that it wasn't just the Mackintosh that the British invented, but also the Cardigan.

Knackered Mother: that is one unbelievably delicious nail varnish. Since Shayma is disqualified because she's my friend in Real Life, you win. Chanel - tick, it's called Dragon - tick, Orangey/red-tick, Nailvarnish - weatherproof tick, All good - Chanel's Dragon looks like bottled sunsets. Email me your details on and I will package up the mascara and lippy for you

Knackered Mother said...

Thank you, what a thrill! Was sure the mangoes had it in the bag...x