Over the years since the “My Stepmother Is an Alien” screen test, I told myself that I didn’t get the part because I didn’t actually want it. I didn’t want to be a child star; I wanted to be a theater actor in New York, a far worthier goal. [...] But a quarter of a century later, do I wish I had gone back to that Columbia soundstage, hot tears rolling off my chin, and said, “Mr. Benjamin, can I just do one more take?” Every single day.
I have always loved rain, anything from drizzle to downpour and all the spits and spots in between. Being out in it, hiding from it, the fact that it both freshens up the world and makes it cosy. Above all, I like the fact that rain is unaccountable. It just turns up or doesn’t, and, short of having an aeroplane loaded with cloud-seeding chemicals at your disposal, there is nothing you can do about it. In an increasingly commodified world, rain keeps us wild and it keeps us humble.
But try telling that to other people. Mostly they look at you as if you had just expressed a preference for being in pain. So how exhilarating to find that Melissa Harrison, a nature writer as well as a novelist (who has just been longlisted for the Baileys prize and was shortlisted for the Costa) feels the same, and has both the specialist knowledge and knack of language to explain why water falling from the sky is such a pleasurable part of daily existence. Setting her narrative in 2014, a very good year for those of us who like to get wet, she embarks on four country walks chosen to showcase the different faces of English damp.
“Super” (from the same word in Latin, meaning above, over or beyond) has been around as an adjective and noun since the mid-19th century and as a prefix long before that. Shakespeare even got into the compound mix, noted Patricia T. O’Conner, an author of several books on language, with “my super-dainty Kate” in “The Taming of the Shrew.” But it has been in use as a stand-alone adverb — as a synonym for very or extremely — since only 1946, according to Merriam-Webster.