My three enduring thunder & lightning memories:
In Valencia, Spain, on holiday with a group, we stood outside McDonald's waiting for the last bullfight of the season. The bullring was a short walk down a narrow pedestrian street lined with restaurants and outdoor seating, so we had time to rest against a tanned wall and take in a righteous thunderstorm striking signs and clawing the darkened sky. Miraculously or otherwise, the rain, a consistent blanket, held just five feet in front of us and if one were to accidentally walk into it, they would have been soaked in moments. As it was, we just gawped and tried to capture a stray bolt on our camera phones, dry for the moment. Word came then that the bullfight was cancelled so some went for pizza while the rest stayed to take in the show only to get wet through when the shower moved over us.
Frightened as a child listening to stories from friends, mine or one my brothers’, of dogs gone wild from the fantastic weather, only to scarper outside in a frenzy and be set alight by Thor’s will. As it goes, the dog would turn up days later hairless and blackened or rush into the kitchen as a ball of fire depending on who was telling it.
Or in our bunks, with an extra mattress laid for a friend staying the night, I listened to the thunder and more woeful tales of old women struck through windows mistakenly left open during the storm.
And finally in school of a classmate brain damaged while using the phone during a rolling clap. The fable spread like that for a week before the kid was seen healthy and alive in class, a ringing in his ear.
From the man who convinced me my feet would rot off if I wore my socks in bed, I learned that lightning storms were borne of angry clouds crashing into one another. I have vague memories of standing beneath the sky watching cloud movements and waiting for two to collide, only to be disappointed as they were all moving the same direction. I could only imagine it and did frequently in moments just before or after sleep but never witnessed it, correctly and unfortunately. It has stuck with me, this idea, even though I know better than to fancy and it draws forward other memories of pictures scrawled by my four year old hands of white skies and blue clouds with the truth simply a glance upwards.