Friday, 28 March 2014

Frivolous Friday: The British Obsession With The Weather: Careful, It's Catchy

I come from a country with a reputation for year round sunshine. In fact, I grew up to the strains of a radio commercial (we didn't have TV back in South Africa then) that went like this: "We love braaivleis (barbecued meat), rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet.

Then I moved to Cape Town and all that changed. But Cape Town is in South Africa, I hear you say.

Windmill: Taken by Andrew White

True. But Cape Town has the worst climate in Africa. No contest. It's so bad that us Capetonians often claim that our beloved Mother City doesn't actually have climate. It has weather. Often four different types in one day.

When you add a winter of howling gales, horizontal rain, and miserable cold that starts in May and petters out at the end of November into the mix, you begin to understand why Capetonians don't boast about the weather. Much. You see, even in winter we do get the occasional  - and I do mean occasional - perfect, windless, sunny day that makes us forgive the other 240 miserable ones. That's when we really start bragging.

Come summer, the gloating stops because now Cape Town is at its magnificent worst. December brings more wind: Chilling gales that come howling off the Southern Atlantic, keeping everything decidedly cold. They also make a trip to the beach an exercise in endurance, dodging sandstorms. But by the beginning of January all that changes with temperatures now soaring deep into the 90s and often topping the 100s. Then, just when we think we will expire, Autumn comes, bringing March and April, two perfect months. And the whole cycle starts again.

But in all the years I lived there, I never had a weather app on my phone. (Okay, one comes standard on the iPhone, but I never used it) I also never hung out with people to whom the vagaries of the weather are the primary topic of every conversation.

Cape Town: The Mother City

So imagine my surprise when I arrived in England to discover that every conversation - whether on the radio, in the supermarket, at a friend's house, at church, anywhere - is proceeded by a loooong discussion on the weather. And being England - another country with positively foul weather - you can imagine how depressing those discussion can be. And the English absolutely relish it. I swear, nothing gives the weatherman more pleasure than to announce that: "It will be a dull day, with ice to start, gales by lunchtime, rain by tea, and, oh yes, don't forget to cover the plants because air frost will follow."

Worse even than that, my weather app now has scuff marks from the number of times I look at it a day. It's like the bodysnatchers came past, taking Capetonian me with them, leaving this weather obsessed shadow behind.

Ah, dear me, brain rot. I've been here way to long.

Have a fun weekend.


PS: My husband Andrew jokes that it's highly possible that the mapmakers got the shape of England wrong . . . Who can tell? There are so few clear days on which to check.

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