Thursday 8 June 2006

the temperature could drop away...

We’re having some nice weather at the moment. Given that this is the second week of June, this shouldn’t really come as any great surprise to anyone, but somehow it is still remarkable enough to merit a mention in almost every conversation I’ve had today.

Honestly. The British are obsessed with the weather. Stuck for something to say? Just mention how nice it has been recently and you will be fine. Everyone here always has an opinion on the weather. Just ask them, they’ll be happy to share it with you.

We live in a climate that almost never has extremes of anything. It’s never all that hot, but it’s never really all that cold either. It rains quite a lot, but it never really rains very hard or for very long. It sometimes snows, but not very often and it’s a bit wet and it doesn’t really stick around. In fact, what’s most remarkable about our climate is quite how much weather we get. Oh, I know that everyone gets weather all of the time… but in most places that weather is pretty predictable, isn’t it? How much weather do you really get in California? In Brisbane? In Madrid?

We get bloody loads of the stuff, often all in the same day. In other countries I’ve heard that you can pretty mark the change of the seasons in your calendar. It would be a brave person to do that here. In the space of a few hours in England you can see all four seasons. One minute it will be hot (well, warm). The next minute it will be distinctly cold (well, chilly). It will be calm. It will be blustery. It will be wet. It will be dry. Sometimes you really don’t know if you are coming or going, or if you will need that extra layer and an umbrella, or if you should take your sunglasses.

Maybe that’s where our conversational obsession with the weather first started; in our ancestors’ purely practical need to exchange information about the climactic conditions with anyone they met, the better to help them to prepare for what lay ahead.

Or perhaps our ancestors were uncomfortable with small talk too.

So anyway, as I was saying, we’re having some nice weather at the moment. Well, I say nice, but it actually touched on 26 degrees Celsius today, and is forecast to be at least a degree hotter tomorrow, and that’s just too hot, isn’t it? I’ve had to turn the central heating off and everything. Trains will be disrupted as the tracks warp. Office productivity will drop as the air-conditioning breaks under the strain. The British just aren’t equipped to live in a hot climate – just look at any beach in Spain.

Phew what a scorcher, etc.

Deep down though, the longer the warm spell goes on, the more that everyone is really only wondering when the weather will break and we’ll be back to normal. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a thunderstorm soon. Perhaps some flash floods…. No doubt just as everyone has dashed out to the supermarket, cleared the shelves of any kind of meat that could be put on a BBQ and stocked up on beer for the weekend and for the football.

That’s why when you see all those sunburned Brits basking in the watery sunshine this weekend, you can rest assured that they’ve all got a nice sensible warm coat close to hand somewhere.

You can’t be too careful.

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