The English and Our Weather

The English peoples, of which I am a lifelong member, are a funny lot when it comes to the weather. We have an odd climate in this country that for the most part is quite temperate but we also live in an island that on the very same day we are capable of seeing glorious sun, nourishing rain, wistful wind and surprising snow or harrowing hail. Within mere hours, and especially during the Spring time, we can experience a cavalcade of curious weather conditions that can cause the most peculiar of phenomena that I am not truly sure happens anywhere else (if I am wrong then please feel free to correct me) and that is the conversing about and the bemoaning of the very weather itself.

“It’s that fine rain that wets you through.” – Peter Kay

No other topic sees more conversation in the British Isles from the English, Scottish and Welsh (and I would imagine the Irish as well over in the Emerald Isles) than our odd weather conditions. Football, soap operas, food, the lives and whimsies of our celebrities and what Dave from Dorset with the dippy dog from down the docks is doing about his front door (gossip if you hadn’t clued yourself in) are all close seconds but the weather takes the top spot. Nothing can unite two complete strangers here like the mention of how the rain on any given day is the most terribly atrocious thing to happen to them in the last half an hour, like they take it personally that it is raining to spite them! Friendships are forged in the crucible of topical weather based discussion and it can be a go to conversational starter for any awkward situation involving two or more people who have never met, are lacking the natural charisma to talk about anything, and are forced into uncomfortably close proximity to each other. Say they are stranded on a boat with that Dave fellow and his dog after that Zombie Apocalypse I talked about in the last article if it comes to pass!

My own biggest problem with this particular topic is not with the weather itself, but with how our good folks from around these parts are never fully satisfied with it no matter what is happening outside. If it is raining, they are desperate for the sun to come out so they can don the shorts and lick of the creamed ice. If the sun is shining they become too warm and are then clamouring for a bit of refreshing rain or cooler weather. If the snow starts to fall, they then start wishing for the sun again. We are a nation of sun worshippers who cannot handle the sun. Many of us, myself most definitely included, can spend just ten minutes under the warm gaze of that big blazing plasma bastard in the sky and we suddenly begin to resemble tomatoes and beetroots as we begin quaffing large quantities of iced beverages to reduce our body temperatures.

“On go the shorts of hope, the sandals of folly and out come the white legs of experience” – Al Murray describing your average Englishman’s reaction to a British Summer.

Some people here genuinely become saddened by the rain and the grey skies, like it is some gloomy portent of melancholic doom and only the shine of the sun will set them free from their mental prison bars of wet and windy woe. This rain can also though become their saviour after several consecutive days of blisteringly muggy heat. When that thunder claps, the storm rises and the rain begins to fall it is a very welcome event for many who cannot cope.

I have also heard many a time how some will change their intentions and plans because the weather is doing something they do not want it to do. I don’t really understand this mind-set myself. Unless a tornado, blizzard or hurricane is running rampant around the corner, why should you have to change what to want to do? Personally my mood, attitude and plans for the day do not change based on what the weather is like at any given time. My only real gripe during any year is the pollen screwing with my immune system and tricking it into thinking I am under attack from a wave of plant fuelled biological warfare – otherwise known as hay fever.

“It’s spitting……quick, everybody in!’’ – Peter Kay describing a school playground situation where any exposure of the rain to our children is considered a supreme violation of their right to be dry and cosy!

The grass is always greener on the other side of the weather parade and it seems to me that it is very rare that most people are completely happy with it at any one time. But oddly enough if people suddenly stopped moaning about the weather. I think I wold miss it. It’s as if it is so fundamentally ingrained into our national identity that without it, it may feel like we are suddenly in a foreign country, a country whose own weather is very unlikely to be able to satisfy the needs of your regular English man or woman.

Perhaps the problem is consistency; the weather is not consistent enough in England that it remains a peculiarity that is in constant need of analysis and scrutiny. Perhaps we need to start worshipping some sort of weather God who will grant us perpetual weather based glory for the mere cost of the blood of our fourth cousins, brothers’ best mates’ third toe, Pagan style (or a very bastardised version of it)! Perhaps there really is no problem and by writing this and thus moaning about a topic such as the weather I have become that which I am bemoaning myself.


Forged From Reverie.

Cover photograph provided by Anthony Nicholas.

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