July 20, 2012 7:47 pm

I think I may have to leave the country

Unrelenting summer rains have created a summer of nightmares
An illustration of rowing©James Ferguson

The weather has ruined my month. A major sporting event scheduled for July 2012, with hundreds of participants and thousands of visitors, has been cancelled because of the rain. No, the Olympics is still on. But the annual CLA Game Fair, due to take place this weekend at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, has been cancelled.

My overseas readers may or may not be aware that in Britain the rain has not stopped all summer. It’s the final straw, really. As my Non-Dom Girlfriend said to me the other day, her peonies, sweet peas, roses and aliums are all flattened, flooded and flaccid; her strawberries lost to mould, asparagus gone to seed, tomatoes blighted. “Right now,” she declared, “I hate British weather.”

To add to the general weather nightmare, someone thought it would be a good idea to stage the Games of the 30th Olympiad in a city already heavily disrupted by Crossrail construction, the biggest investment in the capital’s transport infrastructure for decades. I’m sure I will appreciate it when it’s finished, but the related travel chaos has meant that my journey times have lengthened long before the arrival of any athletes.

So I was looking forward to the Game Fair, a highlight of my year and the single chance to walk around and visit, in one place, all the businesses and people involved in hunting, shooting and fishing in the UK and beyond. But it won’t just be my social calendar that this cancellation will dent. Many of the businesses rely on the event to bring in a large chunk of their annual revenue. I feel sorry for them.

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Mrs Moneypenny

What is the answer to all this rain and all this chaos? I think I may have to leave the country. I have tickets for the Olympic rowing on July 30 and the athletics on August 6 but have already decided to abandon the latter and may yet not go to the former. My decision on the rowing depends on my being able to face the delays and stresses that an email from London 2012 warns me I can expect relating to arrangements for getting to the event. It tells me that I should look forward to security queues as if for a long-haul international flight. Given all the rain in the UK, I am surprised that the queues for outbound international flights are not longer.

The journey to the rowing sounds like an Olympic event in itself, even without the security queue. The shuttle from Maidenhead station takes about 20 minutes (post-queue, presumably), then there is a 20-minute walk to the venue entrance to join the aforementioned security line. Once I have made it to the other side, my email tells me that I then have to walk a further 20 minutes to the stands. I can only assume that the goal is to get us as fit as Sir Steve Redgrave before we watch a single oar strike the water.

My own fitness is actually improving this year. One of my colleagues decided that I should start the Bupa running programme and provocatively left a printout on my desk to challenge me. I am currently working my way through the “beginner programme for overweight mothers of three with no time” plan, which has as its goal participation in a 5km run. I have been running thrice weekly for nine weeks, which is something of a record. For me, I mean. I have not actually entered myself for a 5km run yet, and I remain roughly the same shape I was when I started (ie very unsuited to running), but it is no longer a chore and even something I look forward to. Maybe I will be able to face the journey to the rowing after all.

Whatever the weather I shall be going to Belvoir Castle this weekend anyway, for the launch of my Ducal Girlfriend’s new book, Shooting: A Season of Discovery. It has fabulous photographs, will be my gift of choice this season and reminds us how many people’s livelihoods depend on field sports. These are all people, like me, who are bitterly disappointed by the cancellation of the Game Fair. The rain really does have a lot to answer for.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

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