Meteorologically speaking the pale rainbow, while unusual was not unique. Several occassions of continuous rainbows had been noted, usually portending dramatic events though in these more enlightened times most commentators sniggered at those who sought out a supernatural explanation for its appearance and persistence. More intriguing, at least for the scientists was the fact you could see the rainbow from all sides rather than set against the horizon.
It lasted 37 hours and was captured on film. News was slow – schools and Government were on holiday and few celebrities had disgraced themselves – so the soothsayers and fortune-tellers appeared to pontificate on its causes and meanings. Some suggested starting a dig at its end to find the mythological pot of gold and one enterprising soul started a crowd funding.
What was not in dispute was the fact that at the centre of the end of the rainbow sat a squat brutalist block of flats, once owned by the GLC but now held via an improbable structure of Cayman island partnerships and Delaware corporations. Its occupants were a mix of former council tenants who had not cashed in and newcomers seduced by the views, the proximity to the railway station and the relative cheapness of the prices.
In the top floor flat, closest to the point where it appeared the rainbow touched, Martha Givens cradled her new baby. She had achieved her wish of a home birth and while the labour had been long, the birth itself was peaceful. So wrapped up in her delivery, Martha was unaware of the rainbow kerfuffle until two days after when she ventured outside with her most precious bundle to grab some fresh air and ease her joints back into motion.
‘You missed the fun then, girlie.’ Doris Prendegast was the oldest resident, occupying the ground floor flat next to the entrance where she watched the comings and going with a beady eye and persistent disapproval. ‘Them reporters take all sorts of liberties. Called me ‘attentive’. Cheek.’
Martha waited, knowing she would be told what had happened. One detail stuck. ‘Disappeared just like that. Twenty past two and poof, gone.’
Her baby was born at 2.20. She smiled. It was an omen. She’d struggled for a name for the girl but ‘Rainbow’ it had to be.
Rainbow Givens was a happy child who grew tall and strong. Living so close to the Sports Centre at Crystal Palace it was inevitable she would swim at which she excelled. At 17, after two years of freakish performances she won eleven gold medals at the XXXVI Olypmics in Berlin. Commentators went mad for details of this Wonder Woman.
Her mother declined interviews, especially about Rainbow’s father. Martha just smiled the questions away, remembering that one dreamlike night with the tall strange man, whose penetrating eyes and deep sweet nature took away her natural inhibitions. Details were hazy save one odd memory: as they made love, she was carried far far away. She never made any connection to that rainbow and the curious fact that her labour – 37 hours – was the same length as the duration of that freakish weather event.
But what was not in doubt was the result: a Rainbow who was showered with gold.
This story was inspired by a rainbow I saw from the terraces of Crystal Palace Park which appeared to envelope a block of flats somewhere near Penge!