are always complaining about the weather: it is our national pastime
. It is a well-known statistic
that we have more weather here than anywhere else in the world. For the enlightenment
of those in more hospitable climates, I will describe some of the principle features of the oft-lambasted extreme weather conditions
that are the British weather system.
In summer we have quite nice weather, it is very sunny and once a year the media report that it is hotter in the South of England than in Florida, or Ibiza, or some other popular holiday destination, and there are interviews with Britons who are leaving for these holiday destinations and who are naturally quite annoyed that they are about to miss the heat. Of course, the rest of us merely laugh at them.
The problem with this rather idyllic view of the summer is not that is in any way an exaggeration, but that this 'summer' lasts for a week and a half, usually at the end of July. This is the best time to plan a U.K. holiday.
The other extreme of our weather comes usually at the beginning of December, or the beginning of January, whichever happens to be more inconvenient, and consists of one or two days of snow that is light enough to prevent anyone having fun (like throwing snowballs or building snowmen) but heavy enough to cause disruption to road traffic and trains, and in some cases, snow people in.
This applies in Liverpool, where we have Wales to keep the rain off us (it sits between us and the Atlantic Ocean, where most of our weather comes from). In Scotland, the weather comes from the cool winds coming off Norway, so their snow is thicker and more robust.
In the other fifty-odd weeks of the year, the weather is quite uniform. In February, there is a false Spring, when the skies show patches of blue from time to time, but this is merely the climate toying with us, as the conditions soon revert to their wintry ways. Several weeks later, Spring really arrives, and leaves are soon seen on trees again. The weather stays the same until July, when it suddenly gets much warmer. In late August, it cools down again to a sort of halfway autumnal level, and in November, the final chill into Winter begins.
During the whole year, it is raining, of course. When the recent Tomb Raider movie was released, I made the joke that you could tell the mansion was in England because the ground outside was always wet. The joke was not an unreasonable one as the ground only ever dries in England at isolated times between June and September.
It is not the volume of rain that is so strongly objected to, as the frequency. St. Swithin's Day notwithstanding, the only times the rain is predictable are the week before Glastonbury, the first week of Wimbledon, and the fourth day of any week-long test match (as in cricket). During these periods, it always rains (except in this year's Wimbledon, where it curiously failed to rain until the second week).
I am told that in America, the weather is so predictable that if rain is forecasted at, say, three o' clock in the afternoon, it starts raining at exactly three o' clock in the afternoon. In Britain, we by necessity ignore weather forecasts since the probability of rain is largely independent of any predictions meteorologists might make.