Tuesday last week. Mum’s house. 13.37
Am sitting in the conservatory feeling strangely baffled at the thought of arranging a book launch/garden party/mini festival when my mother comes in. She sits down opposite me, crosses her legs and looks edgy in a way that only a mum with an unwelcome announcement can look.
“Bethan, we need to talk about something.”
I am too bamboozled to feel suspicious at the statement. “Do we?”
Mum (awkwardly); “It’s about Saturday.”
“Book launch day? What about it?”
Through my dazed urghness I can sense something is wrong. Can feel the shifty, edginess emanating from every little jiggle of the legs and bottom rearrangement on the opposite couch.
Mum sips tea. “I’ve checked the long term weather forecast for Saturday and there’s 77% chance of torrential rain at 1 o’clock. There’s a little dark grey cloud with two fat raindrops right over the Isle of Wight. Very ominous. Doesn’t look good.”
For a moment I sit there and blink at my mother. One moment. Two moment. Three moment. Then … oh.
The Shrieky Bethan part of me wants to jump up, laugh hysterically and chew the arm of the chair. I mean – does the Weather not REALISE how much time and energy and focus I have put into the launch day? Did the weather not SEE me cutting out my Rob Ryan style invites for HOURS?! Did the weather not NOTICE me running around trying to find a tea leaf reader for all I was worth? Did the weather not CARE that I am now going to have to de-invite one hundred and fifty guests?
The other part of me (Zen Bethan) shrugs casually and thinks, “how can anyone actually predict that there’s going to be torrential rain at exactly one o’clock on Saturday? I mean, really … That’s like saying the world will end on the 21st of December, 2012 at five past four in the afternoon.”
Trying to reconcile Shrieky Bethan and Zen Bethan, I pull the cushion up over my face and say in a muffled voice, “What excatly are you suggesting, Mum?”
Mum replies in the lightest of rice-cake light tones, “Nothing really … except if we park a hundred cars on next doors field and the grass is ruined, we will have to returf it. And that will cost thousands. And if it rains and is windy no one will come. And your books will become ruined with the damp. And we will have to pay for everything including the portaloos and marquees. But anyway. It’s your decision.”
And she gets up. And leaves.
Oh. For. God’s. Sake. Thank you mother. Thankyou for that.
Wednesday. At kitchen table staring at laptop screen. 14.19
Cancel launch, forge on with launch, cancel launch, forge on with launch …. Ohwhyohwhyohwhy do I have to make this decision? Have been sitting for twenty or so minutes staring at the small cartoon cloud that has plonked itself above the launch location on MET weather website.
Wondering. Wondering. Can I trust a cartoon rain cloud? Who knows. Would you trust a cartoon rain cloud? And who are these MET people anyway? Biting nails. Used to have long nails. Now stumpy and jagged and am still managing to find more bitey areas.
Pick up phone.
“Hi Beth. Decided?”
Thursday. Post lunch at Pebble Beach. 15.15
Hot sunshine. Blazing hot sunshine. So hot I could actually probably fry an entire cooked breakfast on the back of my black trousers which are on my legs, which are lying front down on the sand in Barton-On-Sea. Weather. You bastard. There was NO cartoon sunshine. NONE. NONE. NILTCH.
Friday. Pacing around bedroom. 11.05
State of absolute, utter, epical, emergency. Weather is blistering hot. Experiencing squelchy waves of “oh my goodness, I have lost everything!!”I have lost my tea leaf reader, lost my gadren party, lost my book launch, lost my motivation to get up, lost my passion, lost my momentum. Feeling a bit emotional. Keep looking at boxes of books. Get up and go to window. Press face against glass. Give sky my most intimidating look and growl like slightly unhinged person, “Rain goddamn you! RAIN!”
Saturday. In bed. 06.11
Pit. Pittery pat. Pit. Pat.
Oh. My. Breathless. Beauty. God. YES!!!! Feel so happy I could cry, dance … rain dance!
At Spar. 11.18
Dance into Spar shop like I’ve just won the lottery. Slap down Top End Cat Food and Go Cat Tuna Biscuit Chunks. Feel so happy that I even toss in some Tripe and Sardine Luxury Cat Treats. God my cats are going to love me.
“Amazing weather,” I declare gloriously to the girl behind the counter. When she glances up I gesture with my head to the sheets of water lashing down against the window. “Absoluely amazing!”
“You must be the only person who thinks so,” she smiles.
I deposit money in her hand. “Welp, it’s certainly NOT weather for a book launch or a garden party. Keep the change!” Grinning happily, I skip off with my cat foot, biscuits and tripe treats. At the door I glance back to see the girl looking perplexed.
(NB. To Self. Redeem dignity with normal, standard conversation next time in Spar shop).
Sipping triumphant smoothie in coffee shop. 12.00
Singing a little Suzanne Vega rainish tune to myself when something happens …
Leave coffee shop and get in car. Rain definitely stopped. Clouds thinning.
Driving to mother’s. Blue sky emerging through cloud. No! Nooooooo!
Sunshine. Light breeze.
Am sitting in the conservatory feeling strangely sick at the sunshine and light breeze.
“Terrible weather this morning,” remarks the mother. Sips tea.
“Not good for a garden party. Or a book launch.”
“Are you okay?”
“Mmmm-mmmm.” (Sing-songy Mmmm that means “no, BUT I’ll pretend I am in such a pathetically rubbish way that you’ll know I’m just pretending and the you’ll have to ask all over again”).
“The weather forecast was right,” Mum reflects, gazing unseeingly at a little bird singing on a tree branch.
Sigh. Meaningful sigh. In fact more a nasal hiss … the sort that an angry bull getting ready to buff the ground with his back hooves then charge full throttle into the matador’s aggravating little butt cheek might let out. I stare out at sunshine. Glance back at Mum – eyebrows raised.
“Welp, it was your decision to cancel it,” she says with her amazing rice cake lightness. Then she jumps up, scurries out into the kitchen and runs away like a matador who knows he’s just whipped out one red flag too many.
So. There. No book launch.
But hey. It’s sort of funny really. I mean, what sort of an idiot actually trusts a cartoon rain cloud? Er, that would be mwah then. Dum-de-dum.