Many years ago now, after a particularly comedy-fuelled night out during the Edinburgh Festival I bumped into a theatre reviewer friend of mine on the way home. I told him of my night of comedy, and he told me of his night spent reviewing comic theatre. “I’m sick of laughter. Time for some Joy Division” he said.
And so it is with dreich. We all love those long summer days of unbroken blue, and soft scented breezes, but what would they be without their counterpoint – days of cold, mist and a dampness that reaches the bones? I too love a perfect sunny day, but I must confess, I love a dreich one more.
There is a stillness to a dreich day that is matched by no other. It is not extreme weather in any sense. There are no violent rainstorms or shattering winds. Dreich days are not days of excess. They are quiet days, melancholy yet not depressing. They are a blank canvas on which to project future hopes. They are days to stay at home by the fireside, with a book and a dog asleep at your feet.
Dreich days are more rare than you would think. The perfect dreich day is a careful blend of light, water, mist and cloud. Get the mix wrong and your day may just be foggy, or rainy, or damp. Get the mix right and the perfect dreich day awaits. The rain is like a fine misting that, rather than falling, feels like it is suspended in the air. Depending on the time of year a dreich day can feel vastly different. In winter people scuttle through them, forced reluctantly outside to walk the dog into a cold and damp world. In summer, for me at least, they can be welcome days when the cold tingle of moisture on the face is as invigorating as any cold shower. It is a word that is frustratingly hard to define, as the word itself is its own perfect description.
As the word ‘dreich’ is not purely a meteorological term I have included images in the book that are not always weather-related. We’ve all felt a bit ‘dreich’ sometimes and hopefully some of the photographs reflect that feeling also. Making the book was a pleasure, albeit a pleasure that rendered me damp for days on end.
“Scotland The Dreich” (Luath Press) is available now, priced £7.99 from all good bookshops.
Dreich days are more rare than you would think. The perfect dreich day is a careful blend of light, water, mist and cloud.Alan McCredie