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Singing (and Dancing) in the Rain

SINGING (AND DANCING) IN THE RAINThanks to Hollywood and John Grisham, most of us now know what a 'rainmaker' is, which is to say a person who brings prestige or business to an organisation through their contacts and past associations.

Sort of like a sacked British Foreign Secretary becoming a paid consultant to the airline industry, if he escapes a prison sentence.

The term rainmaker was taken more literally in bygone days.  In 1915 the city of San Diego in California hired a man called Charles Hatfield to bring an end to a devastating drought.  "I do not make rain," said the self-proclaimed 'moisture accelerator', "I simply attract clouds, they do the rest."  As it turned out, Hatfield conjured up epic floods, and a year later he had upped his previous price to $1,000 per inch of rain.  Hardly enough to get your shoes wet, especially if they are high heels.  Which mine aren't, by the way.

David AitkenSometimes great thinkers aren't as idiotic as their actions would suggest.  Alexander the Great once visited the Greek philosopher Diogenes, and found him sunbathing atop the barrel in which he lived.  (See what I mean?)  Alexander, at that time the most powerful man in the world, asked if he could do anything to help Diogenes.  (Build him a house, springs to mind.)  Diogenes said, "You could stop blocking my sunlight.  I think it might rain later."  Was this an oblique reference to the fact that Alexander might be a moisture accelerator?

Rain dances, or 'weather modification rituals' were performed by many American tribes, including Hollywood personalities.  I'm sure the older citizens among us have watched in astonishment as Gene Kelly danced up a wall as if he had wings on his feet in the film Singin' in the Rain, while singing the title song, as if we hadn't already noticed what he was doing.  ("I'm singin' and dancin' in the rain!")  Okay, got that, Gene. 

I recall that 'Rain Dances' was a 1977 studio album by the English rock band Camel - which is a surprising combination, given that I'm pretty sure a camel needs - or encounters - very little rain.  Or no rain.  Where I grew up in Scotland, raindrops kept falling on my head, and 48 hours of non-stop precipitation was jokingly referred to as "the weekend."  When the Eurythmics released their song 'Here Comes the Rain Again', it became our local anthem.  There are more hooks about rain in songs than you'd find at a Peter Pan convention.       

Rain's fascination for us is at least partly owing to the fact that it is one facet of nature that we cannot completely control.  We can cause limited rainfall by seeding clouds, but we cannot prevent natural rain from reaching the ground - for one thing, too many buckets would be needed.  Better, by far, to buy shares in umbrella companies.  And umbrellas.  

Intro photo courtesy of Depositphotos.com

 

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