When I was very little, perhaps four or four years old, I was fascinated by rainbows; and, mercenary little so and so that I was, what fascinated me most of all was the promise that at the end of the rainbow lay a pot of gold.
It seemed to me that this was something I would rather enjoy possessing. So when one day an April shower had been followed by a particularly brilliant spell of sunshine, I was thrilled to see a perfectly formed rainbow with one end very clearly resting in a field some little way from our house. Unfortunately for me, getting to this field meant walking along a main road, something I knew I was not allowed to do on my own. Being of a practical turn of mind, I therefore announced to my father that I wished to go and collect the pot of gold, and asked him to take me to its location.
I recall dad attempting to explain that this was not as easy as it looked – the rainbow would move the closer we got to it. I was not to be put off by this kind of defeatism, however, oh no! Poor dad was urged to leave his cup of tea and set off immediately before the rainbow – and my valuable reward – disappeared. Ever the good sport, he complied, and we both trotted off down the lane, dad carrying the shovel used for cleaning out the grate and which I’d insisted he bring along so that we’d be able to dig up the buried treasure.
Well, it must have taken all of five minutes to discover the unfortunate truth. We’d barely walked ten paces before it appeared that the rainbow had moved. Dad pointed out that its end now lay in the middle of the road. Clearly, this presented a problem: not only did the new location raise some Green Cross Code related difficulties, but digging up the tarmac would probably require something with a bit more heft than a fire shovel.
But I refused to give up that easily – if getting the pot of gold was simple, after all, there’d be troops of people dotting the landscape after every light shower. Keeping tight hold of dad’s hand, I pressed on, eyes fixed to the treacherous rainbow. It made no difference: a few seconds later it had moved again, now appearing to rest half way up the side of the mountain. At that point I was forced to concede: there would be no pot of gold that day. With a patience I’m confident I wouldn’t have been able to muster with any child of my own, dad attempted to explain to me how a rainbow was formed. Most of it, I’m sure, passed me by, but I did take the words “optical illusion” into my heart from that day on. I wouldn’t be fooled again.
This Sunday changed all that.
Returning to London from a visit to the self-same hero of our tale, the skies had opened up for their customary celebration of our motorway driving. The day was dark, the roads were wet, the radio was playing its usual rubbish.
And then it happened.
A rainbow appeared on the road before us. It was bright. It was beautiful. And it ended at our car.
I looked. I looked again. I exclaimed and alerted the Husband. There was quite a lot of pointing. Some jiggling in my seat may have been involved.
Clearly not a frustrated rainbow hunter himself, the Husband failed at first to grasp its significance. But the rainbow didn’t care. It stayed where it was for ages – well, three minutes at the very least – shimmering and glittering and very decidedly ending on our bonnet. The Husband said something uninteresting about headlights; then, rousing himself in an unsubtle attempt to humour his jibbering spouse, put forward the rather sweet theory that this made us the proverbial pot of gold.
I’m not buying it though. Since an exciting looking casket had sadly not materialised in our boot by the time we reached home, there can be only one possible conclusion: this is an omen! I’ve bought the lottery ticket. Roll on Saturday…
UPDATE: Lottery ticket unsuccessful. Perhaps the rainbow got the week wrong? Will try again next Saturday…