Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Can there be beauty in a threatening grey sky? Yes, as this series of photographs - taken about ten days ago - will show. I was out in the back yard, trying to divine whether the gloomy sky was a portent of the rain we need so desperately. Behind me, however, the sun in the mid-evening western sky was so bright that it was reflecting off the roof tiles of a neighbouring house. I took a couple of shots of the unusual light shining on the tiles and then a few minutes later a rainbow appeared in the east, so I took the shot again, this time including a segment of the rainbow.
So I had dark grey clouds in front of me in the eastern sky, yet behind me the sun was bright. Did we get a drop of rain? Nope. But I was about to go back indoors when I noticed a second rainbow had appeared, so I managed to get two or three shots before it started to fade.
When I was a kid, I remember being open-mouthed in amazement as my mother explained to me that rainbows are actually doughnut-shaped, but because we generally view them from the earth, all we see is a semi-circular arc.
I remember asking my mother how she knew this. Remember, this was long before the internet, long before Google. But my mum was my Google, because she knew everything there was to know and everything that was important to know and she could explain it to me in three languages, English, Latin and French. So she wasn't fussed about being asked such an irreverent question by an inky little schoolboy. And that's when she told me that as a student, she had once seen a full rainbow from a mountain town in India.
"Will I ever see one?" I asked.
"If you're lucky," she told me.
Later, when I completed primary school, I went to high school at St Joseph's College, North Point, in the Himalayan town of Darjeeling. Our school looked out onto an uninterrupted view of Mount Kanchanjunga, the world's third-highest peak, and during my wonderful years there I saw many majestic sights that drove home the message of Nature's power and beauty. But I never saw a full rainbow.
Then I became a sportswriter shortly after I graduated from university and I travelled constantly, flying to one amazing city after another. But finally, in 1982, I saw a full rainbow for the first and only time in my life. I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, to get an exclusive interview with the just-retired Bjorn Borg (you can read the story of that helter-skelter trip at Interview with Bjorn Borg) and as the Boeing 737 took off from the airfield of the Himalayan kingdom, I looked out from my habitual window seat and I was blessed with a view of an entire rainbow that I will never forget.
Then in October 1987, my wife took a photograph of me at Niagara Falls. Being the meticulous person that she is, Mrs Authorblog motioned me to move until she was able to take the photograph so that it looked as though the rainbow over the Falls was actually coming out of my head. We often look at the shots from that holiday and I grin and say to the kids: "That was the day Mum found her pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."
But I think Mrs Authorblog has got them brainwashed. She just arches her eyebrows and replies, "Yeah, right," and the Authorbloglets echo her in chorus. One day they'll slip up and say "Yep".