Rain Games


Raindrops keep falling on my head. And on my head. And on my head.

It used to be that it only rained at Catholic funerals, weddings and christenings, on St Patrick’s Day, Easter Sunday and on the day of Feile’s opening carnival parade. But it has now been raining constantly for about ninety nine weeks on all denominations. It has been so bad that a shoal of sniggering fish overtook me in my lifeboat when I abandoned the Rock the other night before it went down.

There is now enough H2O in Silent Valley reservoir for every man, woman and child in the occupied six to have three baths a day until Christmas and for the PSNI to order a dozen more water cannon. I can’t remember what the sun looks like. Even the spongy hills of Donegal, which normally cushion us from the heaviest of the Atlantic-borne storms - as well as bringing American and German tourists together for the first time since 1945 - have had enough and can take no more.

Last Monday was St Swithin’s day. He’s the patron saint of drought relief and someone out there who is praying to him has forgotten to switch off and go to bed. Swithy lived in the ninth century - in the days when there were polar caps, before global warming, and the only thing that disturbed the ozone was a cloud or two of cattle methane. Swithy was Bishop of Winchester when he died and he asked to be buried outside the north wall of his Cathedral so that passers-by would walk on his grave, and the raindrops from the leaking roof of the Cathedral would drip on him.

Without a doubt, St Swithin was two isobars short of a cold front. And don’t ask me why he liked the perversion of being drenched and walked on by high heels. Perhaps, he was a member of the Conservative Party. Or a judge. I’m only here to speculate. Anyway, some folk made up a saying which went:

St Swithin’s day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain;
St Swithin’s day, if thou be fair,
For forty days will rain nae mair.*

The bad news is that it rained on St Swithin’s day which means that the next sunshine is not due until 24th August (just in time for the Slane concert: tickets, 49.50 Euros, including booking fee. No camping, no crowd surfing, etc. See me for transport).

At this holiday time my heart truly goes out to those with young families. How do you please glum children stuck indoors during this weather, some of whom you have traumatised by telling them that the rain represents God crying because they’ve eaten all the biscuits and drank all your diet coke? Or how do you keep eight hyperactive children entertained in a two-berth caravan in Ballycastle without satellite television?

I have given the subject considerable thought and have come up with some activities that are bound to entertain as well as educate your children.

For example, Let’s make a rain catcher!

Firstly, you need a flat-bottomed, transparent glass jar with straight sides, upon which, using a ruler, you should vertically make marks in indelible ink, indicating inches or millimetres. Set the jar out and watch the rain fall for twenty-four hours and see how much you have collected. Next, buy a reputable newspaper and check to see if the rainfall you have collected matches that claimed to have fallen by the weather forecaster. Make sure your dog doesn’t drink out of the jar or else the experiment is rendered null and void. And be careful of E coli.

‘Moby Dick’ is an action-packed pool game. If the gales have not already done so, remove the roof of your caravan and wait for it to fill up. Choose one of your boys to be the whale. He starts the game as the quiet and well-mannered black whale who floats quietly in the middle of the caravan. The little ‘fishes’ gather around him and swim in circles.

Without warning, the whale shouts, “Thar she blows!” and becomes the ferocious white whale and tries to eat his terrified siblings who cannot find the door.

Whoever he catches becomes the whale for the next round. If the whale is unsuccessful at capturing a new whale, he calls out “Black whale!” and resumes his docile position, floating in the middle of the caravan. The game goes on until the children tire of it. WARNING: On no account use a real whale or tuna.

For ‘Spot the Titanic’ there will be a small initial financial outlay for accessories such as buoyancy compensators, regulators, flippers, snorkels, wetsuits and twin oxygen tanks to allow your children to search underwater for up to ten hours. Depending on the depth of your caravan you might also need a decompression chamber to avoid the bends should they surface too quickly. There is little or no real point to this game because the ship has already been located two and a half thousand miles west from the caravan site in Ballycastle but it keeps the kids out of sight and allows you to go shopping.

I could go on and on but you get my drift. And I can assure you that after these games your brats will never, ever complain again about the weather in this damned, fine, little country of ours.

* nae mair - Ulster-Hampshire for ‘no more’

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© 2007 Irish Author and Journalist - Danny Morrison