20 Dec, 2010 @ 07:38
2 mins read

“Rain, rain, go away… ”

“… Come again another day!”

OK, the joke’s over!  ¡Basta ya con la lluvia! Not content with four months of solid rain last winter, the weather gods have started to punish us again this December!  We’ve had more than enough of the wet stuff now! Last year in just two weeks over 500 litres per square metre fell, according to the Spanish Meteorological Office (INM).

Last winter local rivers burst their banks five times and they’re full to overflowing again this time around! Last year hotels and other holiday accommodation were inundated and put out of business for months, homes were flooded and crops ruined.

The infrastructure was significantly damaged: roads, rail lines, public buildings, housing stock, drainage systems.  Houses grew mould inside because of the ongoing damp conditions and no chance to dry out.

Insurance companies refused to pay out – ¡acto de Dios! – so everyone passed the responsibility buck:  the local ayuntamientos, Junta de Andalucía, ADIF (the rail company).  Nobody wanted to fork out the compensation, although in the end the Junta had to pick up the tab for failing to maintain its rivers properly and keep them clear of debris which caused blockages and flooding.

On the positive side the reservoirs have been fuller in 2010 than they’ve been for many a year.  Last year our village, Montejaque, acquired a reservoir it had never had since an ill-conceived and ill-fated dam was constructed as long ago as 1929! All that water drained away last spring, but now, after the recent torrential rain, it’s starting to fill all over again.

“Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!

The history and origins of the lyrics to this version of the English nursery rhyme date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), one of the Tudor monarchs. During this period of English history there was constant rivalry between Spain and England culminating in the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The Armada, led by the Duke of Medina Sedonia, numbered over 130 galleons, while the English fleet, under Admiral Lord Howard, totalled just 34 small Navy vessels and 163 armed merchant ships. His second-in-command that day was Sir Francis Drake.  The most famous (but probably apocryphal) anecdote about Drake and the Spanish Armada relates that, prior to the battle, he was playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe. On being warned of the approach of the Spanish fleet, Drake is said to have remarked that there was plenty of time to finish the game and still beat the Spaniards. There is no known eyewitness account of this incident and the earliest retelling of it was printed 37 years later.

Whatever the truth, the great Spanish Armada was defeated. Only 65 Spanish galleons and just 10,000 men returned to Spain.

Truth is the attack by the Spanish Armada failed because of superior tactics, the swift nature of the smaller English ships and also because of the stormy weather which scattered the Armada fleet. Hence the Spanish origins of this version of the nursery rhyme.

Paul Whitelock

Anglo-Welsh, born 1950. Two children (b. 1983 and 1987). Retired school inspector, and former languages teacher. Living in Serrania de Ronda. Re-married 2010. Freelance writer, translator and interpreter.


  1. We had rain problems in Almería last winter but nowhere near as much as the rest of Andalucía.

    The excuse we got for no payout for the leak in our roof was there wasn´t enough rain. They said that most insurance policies in Spain have a clause about a required amount of rainfall in a specified time. They said that the national weather organisation measure this and publish the results regularly.

    I checked my policy and looked at one or two alternative policies on the internet and they all seemed to have the same clause in them.

    I think that the only part of Almería that had the required level of rainfall was close to the area of Cabo de Gata and I think that was only on 1 day last winter.

    From the stats I saw some time ago Almería had between a third and two thirds of the rainfall of other parts of Andalucía. So I had assumed that elsewhere in Andalucía would have had enough rainfall to enable this clause to come into effect and for people to make claims.

    I guess you are saying that the insurance companies looked for other ways of wriggling out of paying.

  2. Last winter I was involved in three domestic rain damage claims, one of my own and two others for friends. They were all with the same insurer, CASER, which invoked the clause you refer to, John, to “wriggle out” of paying the full cost of the damage.
    Instead they paid nominal amounts into the bank accounts of the policyholders (a couple of hundred euros or so) without informing us. On complaining, we managed to get a bit more out of them, but not the full amount we felt was due. This time they alleged in one case that the property had been poorly maintained – a moot point to say the least, since two adjacent properties which suffered similar damage but were insured with other companies, were paid in full, I understand.

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