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July 15th commemorates the Bishop of Winchester, advisor to King Egbert, who died in 862.

Legend has it that on his deathbed, he asked to be buried outside where rain might fall on his grave. Many years later, on July 15, 931 (or 971), when Swithin was to be canonized and moved inside the church, 40 days of rain either delayed the proceedings or blocked them altogether.

Thus the following rhyme has come to be associated with the day:

St. Swithin's day, gif ye do rain,
for forty days it will remain;
St. Swithin's day an ye be fair,
for forty days 'twill rain nae mair.

St.Swithin's Day, Billy Bragg, Brewing up with Billy Bragg, 1984
Cover: Dubstar, Disgraceful, 1995

One of my absolute favourite songs, in both versions. Each one takes a different slant, but the quality of the songwriting is up there with the best. The lyrics are clever and witty, the melody is captivating, and the phrasing outstanding.

Bragg's rendition is perhaps difficult to take if you are not accustomed to his solo electric guitar plus vocal, the Dubstar version is much more conventional pop.

Thinking back now, I suppose you were just stating your views,
What was it all for? For the weather or the battle of Agincourt?
And the times that we all hoped would last,
Like a train they have gone by so fast,
And though we stood together by the edge of the platform,
we were not moved by them.

With my own hands, when I make love to your memory,
It's not the same, I missed the thunder, I missed the rain.
And the fact that you don't understand casts a shadow over this land,
But the sun still shines from behind it.

Thanks all the same, but I can't bring myself to answer your letters.
It's not your fault, but your honesty touches me like a fire.
The polaroids that hold us together will surely fade away,
like the love we spoke of forever on St. Swithin's Day.

On St. Swithin's Day.

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