For a moment, just a brief moment, the rains stopped, the floods receded and the sun remembered where it was in the sky, dissolving the clouds, bringing people out from behind closed doors who blinked in the light of The Great Dry Outside.
The Finns have 40 words for snow, we must have as many for rain and this year I think we’ve come up with a few more, none of them printable here. Event after event has been cancelled because pitches have been waterlogged or transformed into mud lakes by non-stop rain. Umbrella sales have hit an all-time high and there’s talk of a welly shortage and rationing us to one pair between two.
But the respite allowed the I Love West Leeds Arts Festival’s own watery event to go ahead. All Hands on Deck, promised a day of daftness, with bath toy boat races and general silliness, alongside some rather good singing from local ladies under the mirror ball in a narrow boat and an informative walk along the canal side. This was led by the enthusiastic and erudite Jonathan Hart-Woods of the Canal and River Trust (the new name for British Waterways) who pointed out sticky willy, (goosegrass or galium aparine) sticky buds (burdock or arctium pubens) and two damsel flies who were sticking together, and in front of the children too.
Two narrowboats from the Safe Anchor Trust had chugged along from Mirfield, offering landlubbers a trip along the canal, there were plenty of takers.
No July afternoon would be complete without a downpour and the heavens opened just as the toy boat race was about to start. But being next to the canal, surrounded by folk having fun, we couldn’t really grumble, what’s a bit of rain with all that water around anyway, eh?