The state of the weather is never far from an Englishman’s lips. It’s an all year round topic but becomes an obsession when Spring is struggling into Summer and the rain lingers on.
The utter ennui on days like today, when the clocks are on BST and the heavens are open, can only be found in England. However, much as we complain, we slightly enjoy gorging on the depression of the constant clouds and cloaked sun.
In any lull in conversation we revert to stereotype. An Englishman doesn’t need to be an authority on meteorology to blather on about sun, rain, and more pertinently tomorrow’s weather.
One dear friend is so obsessed that he constantly checks his phone and newspapers for the forecasts. Often he’ll be found flapping around the papers, double chins wobbling, jabbering that “Tuesday is supposed to be lovely” or insisting that “he doesn’t want to waste the good weather”- almost as if it is the holy grail or the elixir of life.
Perhaps it is.
I think we are obsessed because we rarely face extremes of weather; rain is never heavy enough, winds are blustery not hurricane force, and if there is ever sun it barely troubles the scorers. Though there has recently been dramatic flash floods and Baltic winters to prick the senses of all weather watchers.
We claim four beautifully poetic seasons; however in reality we lurch from grim to adequate, book ended with a month or so of beauty. England sniffs at the foreign climes which have real annual rainy seasons. At least these countries know which season they are in.
The last few weeks have been a disaster or a dream for my forecast-fanatic friend. Popping out to buy eggs and papers on Monday I was caught short by a blast of rainfall. I was completely unprepared as it is June and I am a card carrying member of the suede shoes brigade. I ducked to grab some cover, dancing around unseasoned umbrella practitioners and rapidly overflowing puddles. Sun kissed June’s playing cricket or tennis flooded my memory, like the water filling my shoes.
The problem of this time of year is that we feel that we are owed sun and expect to be dazzled in rippling rays. Contrast this with the joyous delight of an Indian summer’s day in September where rain is away but on its bally way. Spring is a yearning for the new or a rebirth as we leave our winter cocoon and shed our wonderfully thick overcoats, whereas autumn is time to remember and any hot day is a well received bonus.
The often overlooked band of the 1960s, The Kinks, mellifluous song ‘Sunny Afternoon” portrays the unique ambience of a hot summer’s day in London. Be it a London park or a sumptuous country lawn, there is not much else that stirs my heart than England in the summer time. The overgrown flower beds with an assortment of vivid colours roll magnificently with mighty green grass.
Skinny white legs in under worn shorts, the 99 flake, leather on willow, loud and proud summer blazers, dining al fresco, the manliness of a burnt BBQ, Pimms o’clock, and most of all the glut of activity derived from the sun – children put down there consoles and run free in the park and ride their bikes, adults alike with their endless picnics, and that relaxing cold drink in the long warm evening in the dying sun.
I’ll drink to that. But looking out of the window, I think we will have to wait too long for the images to become a reality.