Around 4pm, I was happily drawing plans of Roman cities for the-book-of-my-thesis, listening to a Book Club discussion of Terry Pratchett's Mort on Radio 4, and feeling all cosy at being inside while a downpour was happening outside. Around this point, kaz_pixie texted me to ask whether I still wanted to go out for swimming, given the weather. 'Have umbrella, will travel', I replied, adding, 'I expect it'll have eased off by the time we go anyway.'
Far from it, however: when I left the house at 20 past 5, lightning was sparking all around, and the closeness with which claps of thunder followed suggested that the storm was pretty much right overhead. The road just in front of my house was 4 inches deep in water (something I've never witnessed before), and Becket Street was totally flooded from side to side. The latter floods if someone spits in it, but even so I've never seen it quite so awash before. I was glad I was wearing platform boots, but water still found its way inside them all the same.
I found Kaz sheltering at the front of the Blackwell's building on Hythe Bridge St., gathered her under my umbrella, and we splashed towards the bus-stop on George St. On the way, we had to negotiate a small lake which had formed on the pavement at the end of Hythe Bridge St., the water from which was then cascading, Niagara-style, into the car-park below. And once there, we witnessed the unusual phenomenon of two drain covers pushed up out of their holes by the force of water surging up from the flooded drains beneath them, and swirling off to join the rivers in the gutters.
Finally, we got a bus, having squelched over to the bus-stops by Sainsburys after 20 minutes of waiting on George St. We set off, but ten minutes later had still only just reached the far end of St. Giles. At this point, diffrentcolours, on another bus ahead of us, texted Kaz to say that apparently Summertown was completely underwater: hence the utter traffic standstill.
I finally decided that the gods did not wish me to swim today, bid goodbye to Kaz and got off the bus to go home.
By this time, the rain itself has eased to a steady drizzle, and the drains had started doing their allotted task of draining the streets again, but it was obvious from the mud and debris all over the pavements where the flood waters had been. On the Eagle and Child side of St. Giles, it had clearly been right up to the door of the pub: an impression which was confirmed for me by a woman coming out of the pub and saying to her husband, 'I can't believe we saw it right up to here' (indicating the step at the door).
I used the opportunity of being in town with unexpected time on my hands to go home via the smaller Sainsbury's, and then tramped home to wring out my socks and the bottoms of my jeans. Whether poor old kaz_pixie and diffrentcolours have even got home at the time of writing (7:45) is uncertain...
Ah well, we will swim some other time. Just perhaps not when the weather is so self-evidently against us!