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Rutland columnist Allan Grey reflects on living under a cloud





Clouds come in all shapes and sizes, some are visible, high in the sky, fluffy little white things in an otherwise clear blue sky, the prettiest are the cirrus variety, great backgrounds if you are into landscape photography, writes Rutland columnist Allan Grey.

Clouds might also be dark, black and threatening, the cumulonimbus variety and apt to lash us with voluminous amounts of rainfall, hopefully enough to fill our reservoirs, ideally enough to nourish our crops and plants but unfortunately all too regularly flooding our fields, our roads and our homes.

Whichever type of cloud happens to be present, we live beneath them and they can have a significant effect on our mood at any given time.

An overcast sky on the border of Chin and Kyrgyzstan.
An overcast sky on the border of Chin and Kyrgyzstan.

‘Living under a cloud’ is an idiom from the dark medieval times of the 14th and 15th centuries, where dark clouds represented ominous misfortune and bad luck. In whichever context the phrase ‘living under a cloud’ is used, it implies negativity, someone seen as being dishonest, not to be trusted, someone suspected of doing wrong, having a damaged reputation, or in some cases someone being a complete numpty.

Living under a cloud can be an intensely personal experience, it may be a physical experience, such as living however briefly under a cloud of precipitation, or it may be a mental or emotional experience, such as living for a considerable time under a cloud of apprehension. The Lovely Lady and I have recently experienced living under both types of cloud, concurrently actually, one short lived and physical, one lasting significantly longer and having a deleterious mental effect.

The physical one recently whilst in Lanzarote occurred after we had decided to perambulate along the promenade for a couple of miles one afternoon, me on foot, Lovely Lady in a mobility scooter, heading for a restaurant where we wanted to book a table for dinner that evening. Nearly there and the heavens open, a ‘cloudburst’ with us right underneath, soaked to the skin but within a couple of hundred yards of our destination.

Allan Grey
Allan Grey

Finally, heading up a steep slope toward the restaurant and Lovely Lady’s mobility scooter cuts out, nothing, we’re stranded, a bit like the Grand Old Duke of York, when you’re halfway up, you’re neither up nor down.

I disengage the drive from the wheels and decide it’s easier to for me to guide the Lovely Lady and scooter back down onto the promenade where I leave her in the rain, immobilised, and make it on foot up to the restaurant and book a table for four. Well I hadn’t come all that way, getting soaked into the bargain to end up not booking the table, had I?

On my return I find Lovely Lady where I had left her; she had been asked by several bemused passers-by why she was stationary, in the rain and soaked to the skin on her scooter, and would she like to be pushed along somewhere. “No”, she’d replied, “my husband has left me here, he will be back shortly, he’s just booking a table for dinner”.

I magically get the scooter going but by this time, as you might imagine, I’m under a big black emotional cloud labelled “whose boffing idea was this, you complete numpty”, emanating from the dreadfully damp driver of the scooter. Fortunately this hostile emotional cloud gradually dissipated and the skies cleared and we eventually had a good laugh about it, took a selfie and posted it on Facebook, as ya do, for the world to have a chuckle about our having lived briefly under that precipitous cloud.

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The second cloud descended upon us in October last year after the Lovely Lady ended up in hospital for a week in Florida, following a fall whilst volunteering for the eighth time at the wonderful Give Kids the World. After the week Lovely Lady was repatriated back home with all transport arranged, spanking new wheelchair provided, flight upgraded to business class and with an American paramedic chaperone all the way from the hospital ward in Orlando to our front door in Oakham, and who naturally then had to return to Florida. All this was arranged by Lovely Lady’s companion via our travel insurance, and whose claim to fame to this day was that she never once showed a credit card whilst liasing with hospital, insurance company, travel assistance company and yours truly.

I was travelling in India at the time and to ensure that Lovely Lady would be repatriated, I was required by the travel assistance company to sign a legally binding document, digitally, enabling full disclosure of her medical records and furthermore that should the underwriter for some reason not pay all these expenses, then I would be liable.

Lo and behold, last Wednesday, after almost six months of having lived under a massive cloud of apprehension, we received confirmation that the underwriter, as a ‘gesture of goodwill’, had confirmed cover and paid all the bills. I have no confirmation of how much the costs amounted to, but a conservative estimate would be between 50 and 75 thousand dollars.

For those six months, since October last year, we have both been living under a very dark cloud, wondering if a demand for a large sum of US dollars would land in our inbox. Wonderfully that cloud has now cleared and whether cirrus or cumulonimbus are forecast by the Met Office boys and girls for next week, are we bovvered?



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