Nothing But Mud

     Tomorrow I am heading back to Paris after a week’s holiday in the country. While it was lovely to see my family, I cannot pretend I was not a little disappointed with the weather. Usually at this time of year we are enjoying lazy breakfasts outside under the sun umbrella and getting our first tan of the year working in the garden. But there has been nothing this April but rain, rain, rain, and travelling south from Paris brought no improvement at all. I am absolutely disgusted at having had to spend my entire week huddling up against a radiator or squelching through the mud after the dogs in my Wellington boots while the rain pelted down on my umbrella. In fact, I fully expect to wake up in the morning to find the garden has become one vast swimming-pool. There is a slightly apocalyptic feel to all this rain – as if it will keep going relentlessly till it has swallowed us all up. I couldn’t help thinking today of Dickens’ description of London in the opening pages of Bleak House, in which the city is so mired in fog and mud that it appears to have reverted to a primitive quagmire – a sort of Lost World crawling with dinosaurs before Conan Doyle ever wrote it. I derived a little amusement this afternoon from comparing the current soggy state of the garden to this passage: there is some comfort, after all, in the thought that one could be living in a Dickens novel…


     London. The Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes – gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, indistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas, in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest. 


     Tomorrow, we had originally planned a large family picnic. But if it is as I expect, I will be quoting Steinbeck’s description of a post-deluge world at the end of The Grapes of Wrath instead…

© Florence Berlioz 2012



About Miss Darcy's Library

I love books - buying books, reading books, discussing books, and generally admiring them from all angles (except the e-book). I also love tea, roses, and my dogs, and seldom pass up an opportunity to slip them into the conversation.
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4 Responses to Nothing But Mud

  1. Ugh! So sorry to hear your vacation was flooded. I wish I could have sent you some of our brutal desert sun to dry everything out. That Dickens passage makes me feel depressed!

    • We could definitely have done with a bit of drying sunshine! We planted a tree on Sunday and digging the hole was literally like digging a well, there was so much water oozing up!
      That Dickens passage is very powerful, isn’t it?!

  2. FleurFisher says:

    All I can say is that I hope your dogs love wellington boots as much as mine does. Dickensian weather is wonderful to read about, but no fun at all to live with.

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