(Too Many) Days Of Thunder

All these thunderstorms are very unsettling.

It’s all very well saying you should ignore them – tell that to a friend of mine who woke up in the middle of a particularly long blast directly overhead. In that limbo state between sleep and waking, a combination of too many alien films and a mobile phone within reach resulted in his making a call to the local garda station, telling them that there was definitely some kind of attack underway. (Yes, the words “alien” and “ship is here” were used. This is one time when E.T. definitely shouldn’t have phoned home).

But if you don’t feel like breaking out the National Guard – (do we even HAVE a National Guard? Somehow I just can’t see them being like the guys in the films who take on the aliens – proper fighting, Hollywood style. Remember Independence Day? Even the President got into a plane!!! Can’t see Inda Kenny doing that somehow – but I digress) – what are you supposed to do?

Being the all-round culture hound that I am, it’s at times like these that I take my cue from whatever I can find on screen or in literature.

For a harmonious creature like me, The Sound of Music was my first stop and it provided me with a morsel of comfort when I watched this clip:-

But would it really work for me? Well, I listened to the words of Maria, the governess –

“You try it! What things do you like?”

Easy, I thought! That bit in The Godfather where Sonny wallops his brother-in-law for beating up his sister! The first few notes that tell you JAWS is on his way to where the oblivious loved-up couple are chilling out in a rickety old boat that the guy named after his gal. Oh, and the bit in Jurassic Park where they open the gates.

“What are they keeping in there, King Kong?” wonders Jeff Goldblum.

No. Something worse. Much, much worse.

Even T-Rex runs from thunderstorms

By the time I’ve sung about all that, there’s only silence from everyone in the room. They’re giving me funny looks. A few are walking slowly backwards towards the door. They don’t seem to be afraid of the thunder anymore. It’s as if they have other things on their mind, only they don’t want to talk about it. At least, not to me.

So I have no choice but to move on to books. Thunder doesn’t really feature that much in books. People tend not to notice what’s going on weather-wise. Unless it’s a Famous Five book by Enid Blyton. There’s always a thunderstorm in there somewhere. I suppose they’re useful if you want to throw a bunch of kids into a mysterious situation – make the power blow and all that. I used to wonder if it was just so she could tell kids they shouldn’t be afraid of storms because there was always a line that read “All of the children loved a thunderstorm”.

That just never made sense to me. Why would they love a thunderstorm? They spent most of their time out cycling around and camping while their parents/aunt/guardians were off at conferences. Wouldn’t all the rain interfere with the sleeping bags? Like, make them completely sodden??

No, I think you were supposed to read it as a kid and think that if even Anne wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms, then there really was nothing to be afraid of. Cos let’s face it, that fact alone was hard to believe. Anne from the Famous Five had to be one of the most depressing characters in literature!!!! Didn’t she ever get tired of her life? I mean, for most of those books, she was what – ten years old, and everyone just treated her like some kind of skivvy?! She was always the one who stayed behind while Julian, Dick and George went off to go swimming. Did Anne go? No. Anne stayed back home at the campsite and made breakfast, using up the last of the lashings of ham and boiled eggs that Julian would have bought from some grumpy farmer for twenty-five pence the night before.

I remember one particularly annoying chapter where Dick (Anne’s brother, one year older but infinitely more independent at 11) remarked that Anne would probably find some way of setting up a little cupboard in the woods so she could keep her brooms and cleaning stuff there. How I wept.

And they wonder why George never answered to Georgina! I know why. It’s because she’d heard all her life about this weird girl cousin who was obsessed with cleaning the Great Outdoors and badly needed to read an introduction to feminism. But it was okay, because she wasn’t afraid of thunderstorms, not one little bit.

“Those trees behind me could do with some dusting,” thought Anne, starting to pedal backwards.

Oh, I digressed. Where was I?

Yes, on to more books. There were storms in Macbeth whenever the witches appeared, but that’s not going to make me feel any better. Much more up my alley is Wuthering Heights and poor old doomed Cathy sitting there in the kitchen and talking about how she is Heathcliff and he is her, but she can’t marry him cos it would be beneath her and her big meanie brother wasn’t nearly as helpful as Sonny and just kept on degrading him and oh, it’s all so traumatic. And the thunder really adds to the drama. So maybe it’s not such a bad thing all the time??

Heathcliff and Cathy should be violently together, especially in that version where he’s played by Ralph Fiennes.

Wasn’t it nice of Nellie to let Heathcliff wait until he heard the love of his life say it would degrade her to marry him, then let him run off into the night, THEN TELL CATHY WHAT HE HEARD? Woah, Nellie! Where did you pick up those skills in stirring the proverbial? Jersey Shore?

Oh, you big old fool Cathy. If you’d used your head and learned a proper York-shah accent, you mightn’t have had to put with a curse from the big guy. Cue the thunder.

If looks could kill….he’d still want you to walk the earth restless…

So I move on, my spirit slightly comforted by the discomforting spirit of Heathcliff. Different strokes, people, different strokes.

I’ve had many reasons to be grateful to Bob Dylan, not least for the perfection of Nashville Skyline. And it’s good to know that he too has had his issues with Thunder, specifically on the Mountain. We’re in this together, Bob. Let’s get together and jam. You play, I’ll listen. I’m free next Tuesday. You’ll be right as rain by Wednesday. No pun intended.

Of course, there’s really only one song that does proper, kick-ass justice to a thunderstorm:-

Yes, they’re old men who dress in shorts and wear school uniforms, but wouldn’t it be great fun to play this song at full blast on top of a hill during a thunderstorm?? Maria and the Von Trapp Family Singers could do harmonies. T-Rex might tumble through at some point. (Sorry Anne, I guess you set up your pantry in the wrong place at the wrong time). Heathcliff would pop up to scowl and gurn about his future acting awards when there’ll be nowt anyone can do to stop him from taking over th’ world, or th’ Grange at least. And then Bob Dylan will arrive on a camel to join in on an acoustic guitar and steal everyone’s thunder as usual.

I won’t mind. I’ll just sit it out in a nearby hollowed tree. Everyone else can get Thunderstruck. I’ll be waiting for the sun with Nina Simone.

At the rate we’re going, it could take a while.