As I may have mentioned before, I am no stranger to the Stevenson screen (invented by the father of Robert Louis Stevenson, apparently) having been a stalwart of the Weather Club when at secondary modern school back in the late 1970s. Having the keys to the “screen” made me a very desirable chap, I can tell you – not just any lad of 12 could offer a look at his wet-and-dry bulb.
After a few years of cycling around South Cambs, I have realised my understanding of the weather is not quite as great as I might have imagined. I used to think that fog and strong wind were mortally enemies – wherever there was fog, strong wind would be absent and vice versa. Either I was wrong, or they have had a major rapprochement since 1979, but I can assure you that strong wind and fog can now often be seen out and about together. I’m not sure how this works – you’d think a stiff breeze would disperse the fog – but it is nice to see ancient enemies burying the hatchet.
Today, I encountered another new weather phenomenon. Before departing Fish Towers, I checked the forecast (dry) and the rainfall radar (not a shower within 100 miles of Sawston) and so was slightly surprised by the continuous and insistent rainfall that was my companion as I headed into Cambridge for a little last-minute Christmas shopping. It would seem that the boffins at Qinetiq (or one of our other, somewhat euphemistically named, defence companies) have succeeded in developing stealth rain! Yes, finally the dream of rain that is totally invisible to radar is a reality – though, the real breakthrough will be invisible fog (ideal for airports!). No longer will the UK need recourse to fire- or cluster-bombing of civilian populations in order to undermine enemy morale. No, in future the mere threat of being able to ruin fêtes and barbecues without warning should quickly bring Her Majesty’s foes to their knees and/or senses; and how pleasing that we are finally able to use one of this country’s greatest strengths, and bring drizzle to bear in the field of conflict.
Still, bad weather is not without the odd delight. Last week, while almost freezing rain was being hurled at me with stinging force by a fierce crosswind, I did have the pleasure of seeing a rainbow. Not just seeing one, but for the first time ever I could actually see the end of the rainbow and where exactly it touched the ground: in a hedge less than 100 yards from me. No sign of a diminutive Irish chappie with (or without) a pot of gold though. Maybe all those TV offers to buy your gold through the post had proven too much of a temptation? Or have the leprechauns all been recalled as part of the attempt to bail-out the flagging economy back home?