Moaning, Brits and the Weather: How does it all fit together?

Every July or August, whenever there’s a moment of cloud or rain, all around the country, conversations like this will spark between complete strangers:

- “Not much of a summer this year is it?”

– “Oh, it’s just going from spring straight to autumn this year”

I mean, it’s almost like people are reaffirming their Britishness – because without moaning about the weather, they’d instantly be deported.

The strange thing is, Britain has different weather every year. We have a coastal, temperate climate, influenced by the gulf stream, that means we have relatively mild summers and relatively mild winters. This is not a new thing.

As much as the population likes to believe that the British Isles were formerly located in the Mediterranean, and then forced into the Atlantic because we couldn’t stand the smell of the cheese from France when a Northerly wind blew, this is not the case. For thousands of years, our islands have sat in more or less the same place, with more or less the same weather.

But the British don’t just get their knickers in the twist in the summer – that’d be far too seasonal – weather-related-moaning is a year-round-sport, coverage of which appears to keep half the BBC in a job, as demonstrated by this search. Come winter, working out the most dramatic ways to announce the impending doom, brought by the annual 2cm of snow, is a challenge that every rolling news channel must spend months preparing for.

However, variability of British weather is of no surprise to anyone who has lived here – it rains, it snows, it’s sunny – all in an afternoon. The Independant even momentarily stopped its salacious statistics stories long enough to most the most insightful headline: “Predictably unpredictable weather set to continue

Now being British, I wouldn’t actually have a problem with this nationalistic yearlong moanfest, if people didn’t take it to heart, and assume that “winter is winter, summer is summer and neither twain shall meet”.

The thing that the Independent gets right is that you can’t predict the weather – summer may involve snow, it may involve rain, winter may involve sun or snow, or rain – or perhaps all 3 – in the same day.

When I look back at my photos albums from the past year, a very small number involve encounters with rain, so rather than try and fit Britain into a Sahara-shaped hole, or waiting for the one day of the year when the weather forcast prophecies “sun and only sun”, I’d encourage people to opportunistically take advantage of the weather, and see how it goes!

If it’s sunny, in March, in Scotland – don’t whinge later in the year – go swimming! If it rains, in August, put your waterproof jacket on. If it snows in May, get out your gloves and warm coat, and launch a snowball into the face of the next person to complain about it!

There’s an old Scandanavian saying that goes “There’s no bad weather just bad clothing”.

Don’t just take it to heart, live it.

The Isle of Skye, in March 2012 - Hot enough to swim!
The Isle of Skye, in March 2012 - Hot enough to swim!