Thursday, 3 February 2011

Chalk Horses and Heavy Rain - 26th Nov 2010

As promised my blog tour of my new short story collection, Stars in Unexpected Places, begins here with....Chalk Horses and Heavy Rain!

Chalk Horses and Heavy Rain is about every family holiday you’ve ever had in the UK. You know the ones - you hire a caravan on the South Coast in mid summer, full of enthusiasm for the long country walks and ‘fresh air’ you will enjoy. Oh, you naive Briton! The time for your trip comes around and you try to be enthusiastic, you’re on holiday after all and the opportunity comes but once a year, but the fact cannot be escaped that being holed up in a confined space with your nearest and dearest is not all it’s cracked up to be. And it’s the UK. It rains. A lot. Then some bright spark, usually your dear spouse, suggests a country walk to some random monument or mythical Stone Age carving. This is exactly the situation we enter into with Mr and Mrs Bordoloi in Chalk Horses and Heavy Rain.

“‘It’s nice to get away, though,’ Mr Bordoloi said.
Mrs Bordoloi looked up, her husband's face was crinkled with earnest enthusiasm. He had his summer look, the beginnings of a scratchy blond beard along with his normal wiry moustache. All these years and she still didn't know why he only grew a beard in the summer. Mrs Bordoloi was almost carried away with her husband’s enthusiasm, the beginnings of a smile appearing on her lips, when a fat blob of rain landed on her forehead and proceeded to roll down her face and off the end of her nose. Mr Bordoloi emitted a sharp squawk of laughter, quickly covering his mouth when he saw the thunderous look on his wife's face.
‘I’m sure it will pass,’ said Mr Bordoloi. And with those fateful words he unleashed a significant proportion of the Atlantic Ocean down onto their picnic.
Mrs Bordoloi scrambled onto her knees, trying to re-pack their picnic but the sandwiches were dripping with water and disintegrating in her hands. There was jam everywhere, even the wasps flew away in disgust.
‘Quick!’ she said. They were miles from anywhere that they could find shelter and the hillside was completely clear of trees, probably so people could see the stupid chalk horse better, Mrs Bordoloi thought. She carried their sopping picnic bag in one hand while Mr Bordoloi buried his camera under his jacket.
‘It’s July!’ Mrs Bordoloi yelled at her husband.
‘What?’ He yelled back.
‘It’s July!’ She said, pointing up at sky.
Let’s Fly? Mrs Bordoloi was giving up easily, Mr Bordoloi thought. It was just a spot of rain after all. He looked up into the sky, blinking as the rain came down even harder and lost his confidence slightly.”

Mr and Mrs Bordoloi then proceed to get thoroughly drenched as they make a mad dash back to shelter. Exactly the same thing happened to me with my husband when we decided to take a nice summer stroll to the ‘Copper Horse’, a statue at the top of the long walk (or road from the Castle to non Windsorians!) in Windsor. We not only encountered heavy rain atop a very steep hill, miles from any shelter, but also angry deer in rutting season. Not so much of a midsummer dream as we might have hoped! I don’t know about you but sometimes in life I can take myself far too seriously. It is a wonderful moment when we can see things as they are, suspend the grumpiness and see the funny side. 

“She stopped and looked at her husband, water cascading down his face. His waterproofs were stuck to his head and strands of sandy hair trailed down his forehead. Even his moustache was holding little droplets of water. She felt her own clothes. Her whole body was wet, as if she had stood under the guest house power shower fully clothed.
Mr Bordoloi looked hesitantly at his wife, wondering about the strange look on her face and the reason for stopping so suddenly. And then Mrs Bordoloi laughed. She laughed so hard that she had to grip her stomach and tears were squeezed from the corners of her eyes, mingling warmth with the cold rain that covered her face. She looked up at Mr Bordoloi who was staring at her now, open mouthed.
‘I’m sorry,’ Mrs Bordoloi said, gasping for breath, but she couldn’t contain herself. Mr Bordoloi’s serious face, wet in the rain, was making it even worse and now they were just standing in a field, staring at each other getting wetter and wetter. She felt another tide of laughter rising up inside of her.”

I love these moments. You want to be grumpy but you just can’t. No one is to blame; you are just two damp people in middle of a field on what should be a perfect summer’s day. Mr and Mrs Bordoloi have their own little moment (I won’t spoil it for you – get a copy and read it for yourself!) and that is what this story is ultimately about for me. It’s about someone’s soppy face in the rain being the funniest thing you have ever seen and even if they do drag you to see chalk horses in heavy rain you could never imagine, nor would ever want to, seeing anyone else’s face looking back you.

You can buy a copy of my short story collection and read this for yourself by clicking here.

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