24
Oct 05

The FT Top 23 STRANGE PHENOMENA: No.14 Rain with unconventional contents

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Funny rain is quite reserved as strange phenomena go. The usual suspects – frogs, fish, clams and whelks and so on – may be nonsensical, but it stops short of the hard stuff: no anvils or grand pianos; a herd of cows is as outrageous as it’s ever got.

Perhaps that’s what makes this freakery wonderful as well as weird: any number of theories flirt with plausibility, and their provability-proof haziness has lasted them well. Here are a few – all believed by someone somewhere, apart from ONE, which I’ve made up. Can you guess which?

It’s a lie! Invented to enliven discussions about the weather after the conventional contents of rain had become unremarkable

It’s the wind! Tornados sweep hapless schools of fish onto hapless Fins

It’s the birds! Flocks of pelicans have fill their bills with sealife for later use, and then simultaneously change their mind in mid-flight

It’s the planes! … dumping their cargos of cows for political reasons – and of course it was the Russians who were most notorious for this

It’s nature’s way! There’s a whole unknown ecosystem in the sky, swarming with airborne frogs, presumably with lemming-like instincts

It’s modern Victorian science! Observe: sea water evaporates, travels as a vapour, then reconstitutes over the land – well, animals do that too

It’s teleportation! Fish have inter-dimensional travel capabilities that we can never understand, and occasionally make mistakes on re-entry*

It’s the devil’s work! And I urge you, fair traveller, ask no more; no good shall come of it – we don’t talk of the curse-ed showers here, and pray you never learn why

It’s sort of like The Truman Show! The earth is some kind of zoo or sanctuary for humans and other species – a divine maintenance team are topping up aquatic life by chucking more in the sea every now and then, and sometimes they miss

*A computer game was written about this. It was called ‘Fish!’, and featured the Seven Deadly Fins.

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