Walking my dog this morning on one of our five-mile routes around the town and its exurban spaces. This one’s the walk we know as ‘Round the sewage farm’. As it is brilliant sunshine and cloudless, even in late November, I wear no coat, just a sweater. By the time we reach the supermarket there is an ominous dark shape piling up over the sea. Fifteen minutes later rain is pelting down. I drag the dog hastily to the garage and the safety of its dry canopy, to buy milk and compensatory chocolate bars. Now back at the keyboard, the sun is spilling through the vertical blinds once more, prettily backlighting the little avocado tree on the windowsill.
John Ruskin coined the phrase ‘pathetic fallacy’ to dismiss the merely human notion that there is a relationship between events in the natural world and the affairs of men. We nowadays use pathetic to mean tragic, feeble or inconsiderable. In the original Greek, however, ‘pathos’ meant feeling. Hence empathy, sympathy, antipathy. And there is a sense of connectedness about pathos: that a feeling about something implies a spiritual connection with it. What am I to draw from the morning, that it sometimes rains unexpectedly in Wales? That the interplay of sun and rain is a metaphor for life?
I am more struck by the thought that, whatever I wear to go out, it always seems to be the wrong thing.