Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Bloody Brilliant Britain: The Weather

I love Britain. Pure and Simple. It is however, like any tempestuous relationship, marred by moments of anger and despair. However, no matter how badly it treats me, how hard it kicks me in the arse, how much it makes me furious, I love it and love being part of it.

Now you might think i'm about to wrap myself in a union jack and start singing "rule brittania" or something. I'm not. Whilst I am nationalistic at heart I suppose, that sort of stuff is not for me. That sort of stuff says, "I want to be part of something bigger" and "I want to be near lots of people who think like I do".

It is certainly a demonstration of unity, but not one i'm interested in.

My love of Britain is different. My love for Britain is one appreciative of its subtle details.

The weather

British weather is awesome. It is awesome because we literally get to experience every conceivable form of weather that exists on this planet during the course of a year - but usually in a rather non threatening sort of way. Yeah, sure, we get some pretty bad shit go down from time to time; the floods in Gloucester were pretty bad and it got helluva cold back in Dec 2010. But compare even these extreme British Weather events with those experienced by our planet dwelling brethren, and we really don't have much to complain about. Here are some examples:


Tornado Location - Iowa, USA 1993
Damage to area - Small Farming community wiped from the surface of the earth

Tornado Location - Birmingham, UK 2005
Damage to area - Dave Harris at no43 had to replace his new roof tiles


This is a bit poignant with the recent trouble in Japan. I don't mean to make light of the situation, but this serves as a powerful reminder of why I love living in Britain:

Tsunami location - South East Japan, March 2011

Damage - Catastrophic. Entire towns destroyed. Death toll may exceed 10'000.

Tsunami location - Cornwall, UK 2008

Damage - Ethel (pictured left) caught a cold

I have only ever experienced what may be described as 'a major UK weather event' once.

Back in September 2002 I was drifting off to sleep when the room started shaking. I literally had no fucking clue was was going on. The news had been spilling out so much fearmongering tripe about terrorist attacks since the 9/11 incident, that I was convinced that some crazy bugger had set off a bomb. Assumption incorrect.

What I had experienced was an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the richter scale. I'll admit I was pretty scared for the 10 or so seconds it lasted. The personal loss I suffered was as follows:

- I spilt my blackcurrant squash
- My Pink Floyd poster fell off the wall (mind the pun)

It was a typical UK weather event. Neither notable or particularly damaging, but boy did we talk about it:

Here are some genuine tales of terror from a BBC forum set up for the emotionally scarred 2002 quake victims:

I was in bed watching Casino when I heard a loud bang. I assumed it was my son turning over in bed in the next room. Then the house began to sway. Very weird experience.
Lisa, Bristol, UK

After a heavy weekend, my girlfriend and I were heavily asleep when the earthquake struck. I remember waking up but soon returned to sleep. In the morning we discussed it in bed and both agreed it was the washing machine.
Adam and Delma, UK

Watching John Wayne film on TV. The whole room moved to and fro for about 15-20 seconds. Never slept afterwards as husband down at Builth Wells at a sheep sale.
Margaret Evans, Wales

My desk shook and the mouse moved so far as to bring the monitor out of hibernation. It was very unnerving.
Jenny Cunningham, Sandbach, Cheshire

I've never been so terrified... I called the police but they said there was nothing they could do... Why do I pay my taxes????

Ian, England

And it is this forum and many like it that demonstrates another great aspect of British weather. Namely that through its diversity and failure to adhere to any kind of professional predicion, we have all, as a nation, become amateur climatologists.

We might not be able to spot a cumulonimbus from a cirrus, or properly determine the location of a lightning strike, but damn can we make some serious conversation about the weather.

It is the very best of 'ice-breakers'. You can randomly walk up to 99.9% of British people without knowing a thing about what motivates, interests or amuses them, confident in the knowledge that they will be able to engage with you in some serious, hardcore weather convo:


Scene: Bus Stop, 8:15am, Overcast
Occupants: Me. Burly looking labourer type (BLLT).

All of a sudden a few drops of rain fall from the sky.

BLLT: 'Tut'
Me: Here it comes (mock laughter)

Proceeds to piss it down

Me: I wish the summer would hurry up and get here
BLLT: I know. I got a week off next week and i'm meant to be taking the missus to the lake district
Me: Ive heard it's set to clear up a bit next week
BLLT: Arr. Tuesday and Wednesday are meant to be dry and there might even be a bit of sun in places.
Me: Hope so
BLLT: Yeah, well there's an area of high pressure forming that should push up by late Monday and a prevailing south westerly wind is set to bring milder temperatures.
Me: Sorted.
BLLT: Here's the fucking bus finally!

So there we have it. British weather is generally unthreatening, always varied and as such has given us a true staple of idle conversation in Britain.

I wish we'd get a bit more sun sometimes, but in the grand scheme of things, we've got it pretty good.

I love British Weather and I love Britain!

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