Time Team Series 20. My Fourth Episode: Day 2

Day 1 was generally successful, but Day 2 got off to a baddish beginning. For a start, it rained: not the horizontal skin-piercing stair rods I’m used to in the Fens, but the gentle, soft rain of the west. It’s all-enveloping, feminine, maternal rain in Ireland. Almost nutritious. Babies must thrive in it. In Inuit languages there are, we are told, over thirty ways of describing snow. So surely that should apply to rain in the languages of Britain? Maybe there are many words for it in Gaelic, but not in English, despite the near-omnipresent ubiquity of the stuff. It’s just rain. But, I’m sorry,  that’s not good enough; so from now on, I’ll call the sort of rain that caressed me this morning Colleen rain. It was a fabulous gentle Irish rain, whose gorgeous soft tresses floated down to the sea from the Mountains of Mourne.

We were standing in the rain drinking our morning Styrofoam mug of luke-warm tea when the conversation ceased for a moment. To break the silence I raised the subject of the gender of rain. Phil Harding looked at me, as if to say, Francis you’ve finally taken leave of your senses. Matt thought I was very odd, then seemed to come round to the idea (he’d had quite a late night). But Raksha just laughed. She’d got it. Later we both agreed that the rain in the Fens was male and not very pleasant. Rather life the storms that blow in from the North Sea, it was unforgiving and humourless. No, give me the rain of Ireland any day.

And as to the archaeology? Well, the best thing to say was it was there. It was developing: there were no sensational revelations, but there were few disappointments, either. On the whole, the rain was rather more exciting. Let’s hope Day 3 peps up a bit.

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