Like my fellow Brits, I talk about the weather a lot. Talking about the weather is almost a greeting in itself, “it’s cold out there today” can be interchangeable with “hello, how are you doing?”. The usual response will be “yeah I know”, no “hello” or “how are you” needs to be said.
Earlier today I found myself talking about talking about the weather. The direction of the conversation was wondering why we talk about the weather so much, it never gets boring and the same conversation can be had several times over with different people throughout the day. Not all of my conversations are this exhilarating, there is only so much excitement I can take in one day.
Anyway, I think we have the answer. Or at least an answer, well two.
First, the weather is a comfortable topic. Everybody has an opinion on the weather. Talking about the weather with people you have only just met or may not have much in common with can fill those awkward silences. Everybody has a weather story they like to share, conversations can last hours.
Second, British weather is extremely unpredictable and varied, which in itself makes it an interesting topic of conversation. British weather is also intrinsically linked to what we do, it can literally change our plans with little notice. There is no way to plan for British weather, we make the most of the good weather and remind ourselves when the weather is bad that it’ll likely be completely different the following day.
That unexpected heat wave one April weekend.
Pub gardens fill up and families flock to the local parks and swimming pools, or lakes and rivers. We are all wearing a t-shirt and shorts, the flip-flops are out for the first time since last summer. Everybody is having a BBQ, meat disappears from supermarket shelves quicker than free TVs in a Black Friday sale. Beer sales rocket and everybody is having a good time. There is no need to stock up though, next weekend will probably be freezing cold and wet.
Remember that mid-July food festival you enjoyed last year? The good food, the beer tents, the kids loving the bouncy castle and face painting, the feel of the hot July sun on your face. You have been looking forward to it for weeks, but British weather will always have the final say. It is wet, unseasonably cold for July. The tents are crowded, people trying to get out of the rain, the kids are grumpy, understandably, nobody is really having much fun. What was a day that goes on late into the evening, instead has people heading home mid-afternoon.
The weekend forecast for a December weekend is typical, not too cold but needing a coat and perhaps gloves and a hat in the wind. Waking up, you open the curtains and all you can see is snow. Your plans have either been ruined or completely changed and you are heading to the local park with a sledge. Nothing epitomises our obsession with talking about the weather quite like snow, we still enjoy talking about snow days that happened decades ago.
I am aware I have just written an entire blog post about talking about the weather. I’m British, this is what we do.