Now here’s another cast-iron guarantee ‘pick me up’ if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t easily feel good cheer at this time of year. One of the things that I love about living Up North – being crowbarred between Manchester, Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford and Leeds – is that I get access to such incredible vistas. The term ‘a sight for sore eyes’ was created for our neck of the woods.
I remember a sketch by Billy Connolly, where he joked about how unappreciative of scenery his kids were, when they went on a family holiday to Scotland. I remember feeling the same myself as a child (“Nooo – not another loch, Dad! Not another mountain! Where’s the ruddy amusement arcade?”) but strangely, I seem to have produced at least one child who regularly shrieks “Woooah!” when we turn down certain roads in our area and stumble across a fresh new view every few yards.
(Although it could be that he is simply being sarcastic. You never can tell with that one.)
So yep, you can predict that you will open your front door or amble down the lane and be met with this gobsmacking views when you live in these parts. But you can’t accurately predict the weather here. Pennine climatology is a law unto itself. But it is the reason for my next ‘potential cheer’ of the season.
The rainbow. The rainbows. Here in the valleys – they’re mighty special. Because you get to check out both ends of them, you see? And this leads to small people demanding that you stop the car in order that they can go and dig for a pot of gold and live lives of luxury (have these kids never heard of the Protestant work ethic, I ask myself? I blame The X Factor for this instant gratification malarkey.)
There’s nothing nicer than walking down the lane and all of a sudden this shimmering arc of translucent colours appears in front of you. And who the hell can feel glum when there’s such beauty trailing itself ahead of you? No one could ever dislike a rainbow, could they? I mean, have you ever heard anyone mutter ‘Oh bloody hell- there’s another rainbow again. That’s the third one this week. I’m onto the council, pronto. Sick of the damned things.’
No. They are one of the best things that still manage to exist in this crazy, greenhoused-up world of ours. In fact, me and mine were discussing them – as a phenomenon – the other day. Although I did then go on to make the mistake of showing them a youtube clip of my favourite childhood-nostalgia TV programme ‘Rainbow.’ My little boy asked me a very thought-provoking question;“Why’s it called ‘Rainbow? This programme.” I said; “Gosh. I don’t know. Well, it was the 70’s you see. And the grown-ups were trying to be all about … hmm… diversity and I guess … how a mix of colours can lead to a beautiful experience.” But the daughter has learned to be a lot more cynical these days and replied;“So they thought that this would happen … by creating a family that consists of some old white dudes, with a mucky looking bear, a camp pink moomin and a gobby puppet that looks like – and sounds like – Nigel Farage?”
And yet more cynicism has tainted my rose-tinted spectacled views of rainbows in recent weeks. On viewing one a-straddled across the reservoir, I made another error – turning to my daughter and asking her; “Do you know why rainbows are so special?” She replied, “Probably. But you’ll no doubt tell us anyway.”
Now, do bear in mind that during my childhood and adolescence I was exposed to perhaps a few more bible verses and church attendance than can be deemed to be healthy for one young person – because I somehow felt led to tell her; “In the bible it says that after Noah’s Ark and all of that – God sent a rainbow. To show the people a new promise – that he would never flood the earth again.”
Girl goes; “Yeah, well. Try telling that to your pagans who live in Hebden Bridge. Don’t imagine they’d be much impressed.”
Still, sarcasm gene aside – they’re lovely aren’t they? Rainbows, I mean. Not children.
And if you don’t live in these parts – and can’t get to see the ends of both of one – go and get your felt tip pens out and draw yourself one. Instant cheer up. I promise. And I’m not trying to be facetious or blasphemous here, but it’s probably more of a cast-iron guarantee than the one about the earth never being flooded again.