You may know that we Brits just can’t talk enough about the weather, but there are actually reasons the British are obsessed with the weather. Home and away, it doesn’t just creep into conversation, very often it’s the opening gambit. So just why are we so obsessed with it? Here’s a few reasons but these are not based on scientific research and I claim no attestation to the truthfulness of the content. It’s merely an opinion from a British standpoint of this curious national characteristic -- i.e., here are my reasons the British are obsessed with the weather.
1. Because We Are Good at It
Well we’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. It is now ingrained in the national psyche. It's really just as simple as that. In fact, this may be the best reason the British are obsessed with the weather.
Overall, the British (non-immigrants) are a reserved race and despite the fact that we once ruled most of the world, we have never developed a greeting in the way other nationalities have. We don’t kiss cheeks like the French and Italians, rub noses like Inuits and we don’t shake hands unless in a formal or business setting. We don’t have greetings like Namaste or Shalom or a bow like the Far East Asian races or anything else that involves a body movement, so I guess a comment about the weather takes the place of a greeting and a way to begin a conversation.
3. Postcards from Explorers
I blame all those Great Britains that went off around the world and sent back letters or diary entries to England about the weather. Francis Drake, Captain Cook, Walter Raleigh, Darwin, Henry Livingstone. Ok, so they’re not exactly postcards but pretty much the same. Then of course when these intrepid men were followed by conquering armies, the wives inevitably landed and needed new wardrobes because of the weather and the topic of conversation gained a new lease of life. When they go back to England of course they have to tell all their friends about the weather where they have been, so it’s a self generating topic.
4. Because Our Weather Forecasters Are so Rubbish
The British people have learnt that reliance solely on forecasts is not a good idea. In 1987, the most famous TV weatherman at the time, Michael Fish, told the nation not to worry about the hurricane women had heard was coming. That very night the South Coast was battered by gales that caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage and caused 13 deaths and countless injuries. This is not only a reason the British are obsessed with the weather, but proof that women's intuition has reliable roots.
5. We Don’t Know How to Dress
Is it the changeability of our weather that causes our national anxiety and stress? Britain is meant to be a land of four seasons; Spring is March through April; Summer in June, July August; Fall in September through November and Winter in December, January and February. So how are we meant to react when we get snow in June, hail in July, temperatures of 28 degrees in October and rain every day for weeks on end? And, just how can you dress for a summer day’s picnic when you know you might be under an umbrella one minute or sheltering from the wind the next?
6. We Can’t Handle Extremes
As much as our climate is extremely changeable and you can have all four seasons in one day, they are always on the theme of temperate. Extremes are rare but when they do happen, we are so ill equipped the nation can come to a standstill. We had 12 inches of snow in December and the country literally closed down. Schools shut, airports closed, roads were impassable and we all stayed home for days.
7. Because It’s Cause for Jocularity and Complaints Alike
So, we have the wettest winter for decades and decades and what happens in Kent in spring? A hosepipe ban. As for our railways, well, if you’ve ever heard of anything like this in your home State, please do let me know. I can’t remember exactly when but in one year we had two instances of major train delays. The reasons – a snowfall of less than 2 inches and why couldn’t the trains cope – it was the wrong type of snow. And, the second time? Leaves from the onset of Fall were clogging up the tracks. Certainly a winning reason the British are obsessed with the weather.
We can’t really blame anything on global warming, although we are told our winters are warmer and our summers are colder. If someone could actually find me a British summer that lasted more than 2 weeks I’d be a happy bunny. These are just a few reasons the British are obsessed with the weather. Do you have any others to add?
Top Photo Credit: Finntasia