"St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ‘twill rain nae mare"
In 1716, John Gay, the author of The Beggar's Opera, published a poem entitled Trivia: Or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London – a lengthy paean to the joys of striding around the capital (ironic considering his reputation as a corpulent and entirely sedentary man of letters). In it, and with typical élan, he poured scorn upon the age-old legend of 15th July - St Swithin's Day: