Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Singin' in the rain - an 'Adventure Bar' moment

It has been raining in Beijing - without let-up, and often very hard - since about 8 o'clock this morning. This is one of the wettest days I can ever remember here, and decidedly out of character for this time of year. It's not a lot of fun when you have to work (and travel between far-flung work venues, as is my fate this week): it's almost impossible to find a taxi, and the streets are all flooded, to a depth of some inches in places (disturbingly few storm drains in this city, and those that there are get blocked in no time).

Nevertheless, Beijing is such an arid city - often going for weeks or months without any substantial rainfall - that there's always something welcome and refreshing about the phenomenon, however inconveniencing it may be.

The absence of taxi options meant that I had to take several long walks in the downpour today (and without the benefit of a coat or umbrella - it had merely looked a bit dingy and overcast when I set out from home at 7.30 this morning), and, although it wasn't as deliciously warm as the summer rain often is here, it was still quite a pleasantly invigorating experience.

I was reminded of the first big rain I saw here. I think it was in late September, or maybe even October of 2002; and I hadn't seen a drop of the stuff since arriving in mid-August. It was late on a Sunday evening, and The Three Amigos were - as usual - indulging in some philosophical beer-quaffing in The Adventure Bar. I was so entranced by the almost-forgotten spectacle of rain that I ran outside and started jigging around in the puddles in the middle of the road, à la Gene Kelly.

The rain turned to hail - quite large balls of it: gobstopper-size, but fairly soft. Now it was very definitely refreshingly cold, and I danced even more joyously than before. The staff watched warily from inside the door, seemingly convinced that I was bound to be killed by lightning, pneumonia, or a rogue solid hailstone. Even my Amigos, Frank and Tony, were somewhat concerned for my well-being, and declined to join me. The waitresses muttered something to the BossMan in Chinese. I suspect it was, "He's mad, that one." Quite so.

And that seems like a fine excuse to post this classic piece of silliness from Morecambe & Wise, the huge stars of light entertainment on the BBC during my 1970s childhood.

No comments: