Each year, when I was a kid, there was a massive event in the park across the round from my house called the ‘St Helens Show’. It was always at the end of July and it was always amazing.
There was a fair, tents filled with crafts and stalls, police dog shows, a plane doing stunts overhead, several radio stations and food stalls everywhere. There were representatives from the military there, as well as the fire brigade and the police. One year, Nintendo brought along a big truck with its trailer filled with Gameboys and SNES’ for kids to play on (and badger their parents for the games they’d just played). It was the gig of the year and every kid in my school went to the St Helens show. It was practically the law.
Smugly, I would always be chuffed to bits knowing that I could just toddle across the road to visit it. My friends would have to walk for a distance or get on a bus if their parents struggled to park, which people invariably did. People would come from miles and miles around to experience this spectacle.
The place was rammed.
In the evening one year, when I was about eleven or twelve, a colossal thunder storm erupted in the heavens. It was getting dark, but the fairground part of the Show was still teeming with life, light and noise.
My mother had showered and tied her hair back and we sat, side by side on the living room floor. Our backs were against the sofa and heads turned to the window, watching. The lights were off and in the silence of that July evening, we silently watched a mega thunderstorm rage above the village of Sutton.
I wondered what it would have been like, to be on one of those rides, being buffeted about by the warm wind, the pelting rain and gravity, all under the mighty canopy of violet flashes and gravelly booms. I wondered if I was brave enough to go on one of those rides myself. I think I decided I was.
But given the choice between being flung around to the sound of 90’s trip-out beats, or sitting still and quiet with my mother? I’d pick my mother’s calm, comforting presence any day.
I’ve come to realise this inner truth recently, mainly because there was a massive thunder and lightning show last night. The lightening was too high up in the atmosphere for us to see the proper forks very well, but the light passed through the cumulous really well, lighting them up like big cotton wool lamps.
Every time I see lightening or hear thunder, my mind goes back to that night so long ago. I always think of my mother.
She was as much the cleansing rain as the frightening booms. As much of a beautiful, chaotic swirl of a human being she was, she was still mine.
One of my favourite films of all time (V for Vendetta) says that God is in the rain. In the case of my Mum, she is not just in the rain, but in the thunder and the lightening too.