In September, 2011, I arrived in Manchester, with a view to hiring a car and working my way down to London, but after two days of more-or-less steady rain, I felt like I was still home in a particularly wintry Melbourne. On the third morning, as I was leaving to catch the train to York, I was greeted by another downpour. My runners had dried out from the day before but it was obvious that wasn’t going to last long.
A man pushed past me, squeezing me against my case in the hotel doorway, raised him umbrella, almost poking out one of my eyes and took off into the deluge. I launched myself out as well, crossed the road through manic Monday morning traffic to the cafe opposite the hotel and ordered my first English breakfast, scrambled eggs and bacon on wholegrain toast. Delicious. Over coffee I prayed that the rain would ease just long enough for me to make it to the station. The prayer worked. As I left the cafe it stopped and I reached the station damp, as opposed to dripping.