My Father always said that if it wasn’t for the weather, the English would never speak to one another…
That remark is pretty close to the truth, the state of the climate is more often than not the topic of conversation between strangers at bus stops and shopkeepers and their customers. I reckon it is a good thing, it’s innocuous, none offensive, breaks the ice in a friendly way and of course our rapidly changing seasons provide plenty of fodder.
Then, of course, there is the richness of the English language, that old (and untrue) adage that Inuits have over fifty words for snow would make you assume that there must be at least that many to describe the British weather. However, it isn’t the quantity of words that allow our obsession to be conveyed, but the colour and enthusiasm for the subject.
Take today for example…
All day it has been cold and rainy. Now you would think that would say it all wouldn’t you? Precise, succinct; takes two seconds to say. But why say just that when you can use words like, drizzling, pouring, deluge, shower, precipitation, stormy, flooding. Then there are the fabulous expressions like; raining stair-rods, bucketing it down, pelting down, raining like cats & dogs, chucking it down, pissing it down (for those of a more colourful persuasion) or liquid sunshine.
And we haven’t even touched on the wind element yet. Is it breezy, blustery, stormy, gusting? Is there hale the size of golf balls or is it blowing a gale or howling like a banshee?
Then there are calm days, glowing Autumnal days, snowy days and days blessed with sunshine… All wonderfully ‘safe’ subjects to fill those awkward silences we British appear to dislike so much.
Of course, we mustn’t forget the stacks of poetry and prose dedicated to the topic either, sometimes the weather itself is all that is explored but more often than not it is inexorably tied up with the emotion it evokes..
This is one of my favourites that often comes to mind on days such as this.
“On the late afternoon streets, everyone hurries along, going about their own business.
Who is the person walking in front of you on the rain-drenched sidewalk?
He is covered with an umbrella, and all you can see is a dark coat and the shoes striking the puddles.
And yet this person is the hero of his own life story.
He is the love of someone’s life.
And what he can do may change the world.
Imagine being him for a moment.