It helps greatly to keep one’s feet to oneself.
Sticking a limb out too far in the wrong places can have dire consequences: it can send someone flying, as I found when I rested my feet in the aisle of a plane and sent a manicured air hostess plummeting to the floor.
Similarly, when I was ice skating, I flung out my arms in a gesture of happy abandon, thus felling a speed skater,sending him careering across the ice on all fours.
You obstruct something on its way somewhere, you should expect fallout.
It is something the gods of landmass should have considered when moving their huge continental plates into final positions.
Because even when continental chess was being played there were some pretty unstoppable forces making their way around this globe. And they’re still trying today.
I speak of the weather systems that seethe constantly up and down the sphere causing one, sometimes, to wonder if there are not three celestial hags out there somewhere using this globe as their cauldron.
The Cornish peninsula sticks out exactly like a foot. It is made up of plateaus of high ground which end abruptly at the sea in sheer cliffs.
The foot is surrounded on three sides by warm sea generating warm air, and as it sticks out into the sea the air must need rise and cool to meet the land.
Thus, it rains.
We woke today to rain as only Cornwall can do it. Torrential stairrods, hour after hour, relentless and unending.
That’s it then, Phil declared: Tintagel’s off.The Cornish cliff top castle would have to wait.
No one bothered to contradict him. Even when you opened a window the rain exploded in as if we were on a boat in the midst of a storm, propelled by winds off the moor.
All eyes, however, were on the dog. The dog needed walking.
He sat stolidly with a grave moutsachio’d countenance, waiting for his dues.
My sister in law has a wealth of rainwear in her wardrobe, for she lives here on this plateau of a moor, on this boot sticking out into ocean, where 2000mm of rainwater can plummet to earth in any one year.
Amongst her armour is a raincoat worthy of Captain Ahab. A hooded oilskin which reaches your ankles. I eyed it speculatively. Surely nothing can get through that, I mused.
A few minutes later a grizzled sea captain in green wellies was tethering a stolid animal and preparing to face the storm.
We stepped out into the wind-whipped village, nodding to the streams and runnels as they gushed past us on the way to the sea.
I have something of the Bronte in me: I had a wild urge to throw off a hood and feel the wind and rain on my face, possibly laughing gothically.
I took down the hood with elated rebelliousless.
And then I replaced it hurriedly: this was not the time or the place. The only garment which could replace Ahab’s cloak was a wetsuit.
Onwards, sequelching now, with jeans already waterlogged, past a gate to a great green field, where a herd of cows stood erect in a comedy freeze–frame, staring levelly at us.
We have a tradition here that if you see the cows lying down in a field, it’s about to rain.
Cows lying down, indeed, I thought. These ladies looked as though they could stand through a Methodist assembly.
I hurried on. It is customary to cross a field on Ricky’s walk; and when I saw the entrance my heart sank.
Mud: trodden and stirred by bovine tenants, smattered with their own individual contributions. It was pungent, a veritable slough of despond.
Gingerly, I tried to steer a course, followed by an incredulous dog. Seriously? His demeanour emanated. I squelched and cursed until the mud threatened to top my boots.
So I turned and resquelched my steps to back to the road.
We headed for home. I come from the British Nanny school of weather management. A few drops of rain won’t hurt you, its wisdom goes.
But because the foot sticks out into every weather system going, rain here is spectacular. It is as if the gods have been swilling out the celestial pigsty and are emptying their buckets directly on us.
I can almost hear some Greek-godly matron lecturing:If you insist on sticking your foot out to interrupt an Atlantic depression, you must square up and accept the consequences.
I met someone who knew the dog on the way home. Hello, little boy, she crooned, your mistress was right about the rain. Oh, well, she added: nothing for it, but to get inside and wait.It’s what we do, here in Cornwall.
So we did.