It was a glorious day. The rain started as a soft mist; by the time I had set off to inspect my host’s woodland, I had to borrow waterproof clothing. In any other June, I’d have had one in the back of the car, but rain-except for the occasional Caribbean-style thunder-storm-was a distant memory.
Precipitation turned to downpour, and I delivered my short speech, opening an event held in aid of the church fabric, beneath a golfing umbrella, beside a huge open cauldron of burning logs. The umbrella had the effect of trapping the smoke, so that steam rose and I periodically choked in the downdraft.
But who would have wanted anything different? Although the view of the Chilterns was still green, the hills seemed to cry out for just such a prolonged drench as they were now getting. A large number of people, encased in all varieties of rainwear, turned out.
The tiers of homebaked cakes disappeared, washed down by cups of tea diluted by raindrops. England has been here before. ‘The Drought,’ read a Daily News headline on June 17, 1921, ‘Lowest Rainfall for 35 Years. Parched Crops.’ Writing The Wasteland at the time, T. S. Eliot imagined ‘a damp gust Bringing rain’. We had a damp enough gust on Sunday. What bliss.