Sunday, 8 July 2012

Welcome to Britain, bring brollies.

There was a hill rising up above the Cornish town I was born in. The locals said if you couldn’t see the top of it, that meant it was raining, and if you could, it soon would be. I dare say its whereabouts have been well and truly shrouded for weeks now, as the West Country is awash with, in some places, a month’s rainfall in 24 hours, little respite after the wettest June since 1860.

At the time of writing, 149 flood alerts have been put in place, 13 flood warnings, three of them severe, and the Olympic torch relay has been halted. Presumably they feared it might go out, and it’s harder to light than a wet fag in a thunderstorm.

One wonders if the torch now regrets selecting the UK as its destination of choice for a little summer saunter. It started out being lit by the sun, in Athens, surrounded by dozens of statuesque looking types in togas. It will complete its sodden sojourn in Stratford, surrounded by pale people in anoraks.

As if the imminent risk of drowning was not enough to trouble the travelling Olympians on their way to London 2012, it now seems our roads system requires a little TLC; truck loads of cash. Londoners have only just reacquainted themselves with the myriad joys of the Hammersmith flyover, after its £10 million MOT, and now the M4 has had to be closed, because it’s cracked. The offending fissure was found in the Boston Manor viaduct, meaning the main route into London from Heathrow is out of action between Junctions 1 and 2. The British Olympic Committee have had one successful bid already, maybe the next should be for spare bridges on ebay. Curing the cracks will apparently take five days, less if they just cover them with woodchip wallpaper.

After a semi-sodden Silverstone, a demi-drenched Diamond Jubilee and the usual wash outs at Wimbledon, it is perplexing that we even plan any non-precipitation proof parties at all. I would favour the erection of a giant awning, from Hastings to Holyhead, under which we retreat, as one, from the first shower of spring to the final soaking in September. As the government are found of telling us, Britain is open for business, but best bring a brolly, and maybe a bridge.

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