Flat roofs belong to the Mediterranean, Roofs for sun-decks, cheap to build, For drying the laundry and gazing at stars, Where the gutters have never spilled. But Northern nations need their pitches, Steep and tall and highly skilled.
Forget the tar, that won’t keep rain out, That takes slate and tile and lead – And don’t let snow accumulate, It must be sheer enough to shed. Maybe some dormers, maybe a Mansard, Maybe even thatch instead.
But these days, and since the Georgians, Fashions favour flat and low, Yet walls get wet when eaves are dropped, And the drainpipes overflow. So ev’ry Winter spring the leaks From rain with nowhere to go.
It isn’t a frost – don’t fret, But it is a cold morning – Notice is given, we’d better take care, It’s merely the first of the nips in the air. It isn’t a frost – not yet, But it is a fair warning – It won’t come tomorrow or next week, it’s stating, But Autumn is old, and the Winter is waiting.
Too far North, and barely notice, North, yet swimming in the seas – Where beaches should be icy-cold, There’s ice creams, tans, and mushy peas. There’s little snowfall on the coast As far as even Sixty-North, And days of t-shirt weather stretch For far beyond the Firth of Forth
It’s crazy how the ocean brings The Caribbean to the Clyde, While closer to the Pole than even Fuego is on the other side, And Trondheim firmly basks within Antarctic latitudes, Yet broadleafs line the verdant fjords To show their gratitude.
And not just warmth arrives all year, but rain – And rain it is, not snow – So Western Europe only works because Its crops and people grow. Too far North, and that’s the beauty, Norther than we’ve any right, When Winter Moons are long above And Summer Suns last half the night.
I’ve commented before on how much further North Europe is than North America, at least in terms of their respective population centres. For instance, the Southern point of Hudson Bay lies at the same latitude as London – but whereas the former has polar bears, the latter doesn’t even have them in London Zoo.
A month of Sun, and then a month of rain All in a day Of monochrome, A month of Sun, then get the horrid rain Out of the way, While we stay home.
Alas, a month of heat will bake the ground As hard as clay, It can’t be tilled – So when the rain comes down, so fleet, It floods the river, floods the street, But cannot penetrate two feet, And washes off, away. The aquifer, I fear, is not refilled By what the clouds have milled.
The thing is, if you want tall trees, Then what you need is drizzle. A garden full of bumblebees Needs flowers, which need drizzle. For wheat that’s taller than your knees, For greener grass and fatter peas, For tamping down your allergies, You need a May of drizzle.
1. May comes bounding down the year As eager as a springer spaniel. Ev’rybody knows she’s here, A bursting, blooming, early annual. May comes blowing from the south As teasing as a cuckoo’s call She’s closing up old Winter’s mouth By throwing off her woollen shawl.
2. A little rain in May Is sweeter than an April shower – Though the high Spring skies may glower, We know they will not last the day. The clouds are silvery, not grey, Less thunderheads than fairy towers, Washing lambs and spritzing flowers, Dropping by, then on their way.
3. May – the name says it all. The month when it might, When it should – Ah, but will it ? The month that may have a squall Or a heatwave, Or a dozen other weathers Come to fill it. Could be a late gasp of snow up on the hills While the valleys open windows, And the breezes spin the mills. Such is the fortune In the month of maybe May. When all of this could happen In a week, Or in a day.
It always starts a ways away, Funny how it’s never close by – Up ahead and off behind, But over there, a little shy. It seems I’m in a bubble, In a force-field of my own – And not a wisp may enter in My fog-exclusion zone. It’s not like wrapped in cotton-wool, And more like in a ping-pong ball – I’m in the hollow centre here, And staring at the distant wall. So only at a certain distance, In it sweeps, like an afterthought – Like chasing the end of a rainbow, So the start of the fog can never be caught. I’m all alone, like a solipsist, In a world without a sun – But where I walk I clear the air, I drive it out, I make it run. I’m boiling off the sunken clouds, I’m pushing back the grey – So this is no pea-souper, But a crystal consommé.
Strange, how this day of love Is a day of sneezes and fingers numb. Why does it fall with a deathly chill As the hothouse roses succumb ? Maybe it serves to underscore How love is often bittersweet – Whereas, in the height of Summer, This day would be lost in the endless heat.
Strange, how this day of red Is a day of snowdrops and Winter mould. Why does it fall when the days are short And the nights are bitterly cold ? Maybe it serves to warm the frost, And give our torpid hearts a shove – Whereas, in the height of Summer, Who needs a reminder to fall in love ?
Frost fairs upon the Thames, they never happen these days – Snow just once or twice a year is all we get round here. Curses to the Gulf Stream, damn your warming ways ! Snow just once or twice a year, and Spring is always near. And it’s shut down the town again, It’s shut down the town, my dear, Shut down the trains and the drains and the pier.
Nobody is ever ready when it comes a-falling, Never dressed for proper cold in proper Winter gear. Nobody is ever ready when the snow is balling, Before they’ve even had a fight, the flurries disappear. And it’s back to the rain again, It’s back to the rain, my dear, Back to the grey – and it’s here to stay, I fear.