Cloudy with a chance of conversation

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Ah, the British weather. An ever-changing cycle of rain, cloud and the odd dash of sun we can revel in between. But why is it that we hold so much importance in but one of the many timeless aspects of the Earth? Nigh on every day of my life I must have made some sort of remark on the weather. It has reached the extent that it has become somewhat of a greeting between strangers, a simple comment on the ‘bloody miserable rain’, or the ‘pretty sunny’ morning, acting as an icebreaker into conversation for any and whomever you meet. In fact, it has reached a point now where I feel a conversation has become mindless and born almost purely out of courtesy if the subject is turned towards the sky.

But why the ‘bloody’ weather? Is it because it is ever-changing day by day, allowing us mere spectators something new to comment on? Perhaps it is because we may find trends, either for the better or worse, offering hope that they will continue or finally change, but ultimately bringing joy to us. But surely if this is the case could we not then speak of, say, the V.A.T increase, or interest rates, as a point of mutual effect? These are both variable factors affecting our lives. Why is it then that we immediately go to the weather to draw a conversation up out of the awkward shallows of silence?

Because moaning is the definitive British characteristic. We complain if the weather is hot, we complain if it is cold, and we complain all the way between. The climate is to the British as Russia was to the US, a constant point of derision and hate, however with the odd moments of contentment.

Image“Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” – Mark Twain

Throughout the ages British weather has always been a cause of complaint, from the Roman occupation, in which Agricola declared “The climate is wretched, with its frequent rains and mists”, to modern age Britain, in which the newspapers lap at any and all changes in the climate, bearing quotes from the distant past or equating us with far more exotic continents to infer the weather is finally on the rise. Yet despite its renowned frequent states of rain and cloud, wind and cold, why is it then that we can complain so much, and yet countries such as Alaska, Greenland and much of Eastern Europe for that matter must suffer in silence? Their weather is much worse than our own, sporting year-round snowfall, torrential rains and temperatures much below our average climate. So why are our people those known to be toughened by the climate, adopting a dry sense of humour laced with sarcasm and encouraging of a reciprocal atmosphere of miserableness?

Because we’re the British, that’s why.

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