Thursday, 7 January 2010

Let's Talk About the Weather

"When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather".    So wrote Dr. Johnson in the 18th century, and it remains true today.   The weather is a topic of permanent interest to the English, and we discuss it endlessly, partly because our weather is so varied and unpredictable and partly because it is such a conversational ice-breaker.   If we want to be friendly to the girl at the supermarket check-out, or the woman at the bus-stop, or the man who comes to read the meter, there is no better subject for a short chat, without getting too deeply into anything.   It can cover awkward moments, or give us an excuse for entering into a longer conversation.   And when we are going through the current conditions, it is genuinely interesting to know how people are getting on in other parts of the country.
W. S. Gilbert knew all about the English and the weather when he wrote the lyric in The Pirates of Penzance:   "How beautifully blue the sky!".

Foreigners think it odd that we are so obsessed - but foreigners on the whole don't have our weather!   Where would we be without it?

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