Have you ever noticed that when the summer rains come they bring the animals out and send the humans inside? After the first real downpour the crabs emerge from the ground in force, the mosquitoes spread their wings and take to the skies (immediately followed by my favourite Kamikaze pilot, Richard) and suddenly the roads are devoid of cars. Why is water in the shower a glorious thing but not when it’s falling from the skies?
Back in the heady days of my entertainment company’s concert production it was a battle between us and the weather. The then outdoor venue of The Treehouse was fantastic, but it meant susceptibility to Mother Nature. Every time we arrived at the big day, we were on the mobile phones the minute we saw a cloud in the sky and voices became squeaky if there was even a hint of gray. Thankfully we only had to postpone once in our careers. We had booked a U2 tribute band, and the rain was pelting down before the event began. Howie, our dear partner-in-crime from Lions Productions was running and jumping around with amazing agility, lifting electrical equipment out of the water and generally resembling an animated lightning rod. “Vic, it ain’t gonna happen darlin’,” was what I got as he flew past me to cover a speaker with tarps. Of course everyone local assumed that the concert was off, but not three hardy British folk who showed up tickets in hand, unfazed by the river of mud heading towards them. They seemed genuinely shocked when I told them that we had to leave it until the next night. Apparently this simply wouldn’t happen in Hyde Park – the show would go on! I guess with British weather being what it is, all sound equipment is waterproof straight out of the factory. I mumbled something about Cayman being different and took my sodden self back to the task at hand.
Then there was that memorable Maxi Priest concert. He had been here before and had always pulled a great crowd. This time we were wise about the time of year – we would book the Lions Centre. We had never worked with a recording artist before, only top tribute bands whose members were always easygoing and gracious. This was a whole different ball of wax. The Friday morning dawned dark and stormy, and I had a backstage rider (requests by the performer for backstage accommodations and goodies) to complete. But this wasn’t just any rainstorm; this was a monsoon the likes of which we rarely saw. Constant, driving, pouring rain hit the tarmac and the usual areas began to flood. Mr. Priest required a tray of unprocessed cheese, a selection of teas, a coffee maker, coffee and a variety of other items that would have been interesting to source in perfect weather, let alone this torrential unstoppable force. As I drove through George Town with a tray of Natural Cheddar, Swiss and Mozzarella balanced on my back seat and two-foot visibility before me, I half expected to see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse thundering down the road. No word of a lie: as I crept past the Glass House at four miles an hour, I looked down upon two men in a kayak negotiating what used to be a parking lot. We all knew what was in store. A drizzle might have brought the good citizens out, but this was going to keep everyone home. We weren’t wrong. That night Maxi Priest sang to an intimate crowd of 200 at the Lions Centre. We could all have had a bite of his cheese each, and there still would have been enough to keep him happy. I look at pictures of Glastonbury over the years, famous for its rain and floods, yet everyone still turns out in droves AND sleeps in tents! Okay, MAYBE they have a few more well-known acts than we have, but come on folks!
There are a number of reasons why people seem to stay home when it’s raining outside. First there’s that run to the car (WHEN are they going to invent a collapsing umbrella that doesn’t cover you in water when you try to close it?), then you might be driving a convertible with a leaky roof as I once did. Convertibles in the Caribbean are wonderful things when it’s sunny outside, but that same sun shrinks a material roof beautifully, and before you know it there’s a drip, drip, drip on your knee where it separates from the frame. I got rid of the car before I (for example) doused it in petrol and set it alight.
Some fashionable souls worry about their hair and/or make-up in the rain. I’m not specifying women because there are a lot of metrosexual men out there and I know rock gods like Mark McTaggart like their eyeliner. I confess I’ve never been particularly bothered about my hair (“No Vicki! Say it ain’t so!”), but then there WAS that time I had it straightened and I couldn’t get it wet. My, my, MY; didn’t I turn into a precious little soul? Running away from the falling water like it was acid.
Rain can sometimes be a pain – it floods the roads, it makes exposed electrical wiring downright dangerous, and it frizzes our hair. But then ask a person with brown grass in their garden how they feel about those first summer showers, or a Caymanian with fresh land crab on their dinner table, or a house owner in the good ol’ days of cisterns. Next time instead of staying inside, maybe I’ll just grab my shampoo and conditioner and head on out the door. Don’t worry; I’ll wear my swimsuit.