So, you’re reading this, which means you probably survived the Great Storm of ’13. Well done. So whether you were over or underwhelmed by the weather in the past week then you will no doubt have heard about it; supposedly the worst weather in many years, Sunday night was supposed to be the British apocalypse – the end of time, the mythical undoing of the Great British Isles.

It did not come across quite like that in Uxbridge on the outskirts of London, in fact, short of a lot of leaves dotting the paths in and around campus there seemed to be very little in the way of stormy, wet, rainy weather to speak of. Or at least that is what I had thought until I began my weekly shopping trip; looking out the window it looked nice, blue skies, a few clouds. I could deal with that. I leave my flat, go to the ground floor and then leave the building; and then, my storm, the Great Flood of ’13 breaks loose. Lidl, my local supermarket, is perhaps 5 minutes’ walk from my front door, within half a minute I was wet, by the time I had passed under the fluorescent lights of my favourite European supermarket I was soaked – in fact, soaked is an understatement.

In general I am a sceptic, it’s not intentional, but I have the kind of psyche that happens to be overly flippant and exceptionally sarcastic about everything; from coursework to money and on to everything else I have a fairly relaxed attitude to life; this week, in the Lidl debacle, my relaxed and flippant attitude to the weather worked against me, and I was forced to carry three bags of shopping back into my flat dripping wet. So what about the rest of the country? Well, in the run up to Sunday night we were told that things were going to get bad; a few local councils, bodies, etc, told their constituents to stock up on everything from clothing to food, to water and to medical supplies. And then the general public, although I cannot account for the entirety, reaction seems to be one that has been almost entirely unaffected.

…the British population has a relationship with the weather that is bordering on obsessive dissatisfaction…

So this obsession with the weather; it is often said that the British population has a relationship with the weather that is bordering on obsessive dissatisfaction. It’s a cliché but the chances are that in sun you will hear people complaining about the heat, in rain it’s too wet, and in snow it’s too cold; that is just the British way. And how does it compare to populations around the world? Well, badly to be honest.

I knew a girl from Norway once, and she came to live in England for a year. For those of you that don’t know, Norway is a country that, when winter comes, is practically submerged in the white stuff. And so it was that, as winter came around and the first inch of snow fell on the school fields, we were sent home complaining and somehow all catching hypothermia; the Norwegian girl was entirely unphased and in fact went as far as to tell us all that in Norway this inch of snow would be a good day. We all stared back blankly through our frostbitten eyes and assumed that, contrary to what she was saying, this weather, in England, was the worst weather that anyone, ever, and anywhere, had experienced. Ever.

…very rarely do our lawns turn into little versions of the Sahara or Gobi deserts…

But frankly our environment is pretty tame; we don’t fall victim to tundra in the winter or to tropical storms in the summer, with the hugely destructive Sunday night experience being the exception; we sometimes get flooding but not to the extent that some countries do. In summer we get heat waves and drought, but very rarely do our lawns turn into little versions of the Sahara or Gobi deserts. In fact, the amount of rain and the general temperature of the British Isles has, for the most part, resulted in a largely farmable countryside that, often, is pleasant and accessible. Be honest with me, how many times have you tried to walk down to your local park and found yourself blocked off by spontaneous waterways or by glaciers on the move? If you say that’s it’s happened a lot, then you’re supremely unlucky, supremely badly situated, or just lying.

I would say that, in general, our main issue with the weather is the man-made issue. That is our ability to deal with it; of course this inability is largely a result of the very reasons that are listed above: we don’t often get extreme weather, and we live in a fairly temperate climate; but surely that should not mean that as soon as we have rain or snow or wind our government, local councils, train drivers and bus drivers should fall victim to the kind of tirades that they have become used to. On my walk to Lidl I saw one woman shouting at a bus driver who was telling her that he could not take her because his bus was not in service. She wouldn’t take no for answer and even when she was told the reason (double decker buses don’t always do well in wind) she was adamant that the driver, clearly in the role of some dictator-cum-public transport operator, had made and enforced the ruling under his own volition. He pointed out that the two buses behind him, directly behind him, were also out of service but her need for dissatisfaction simply was not sated.

…the cornerstone of British society is complaining…

So there it is: Britain, we hate, love, despise, abhor, detest and need the weather. As we much as we joke about the way we deal with it, or don’t deal with it as the case often is, then we must always remember that without it we would not have anything to say in the awkward stretches of silence that extend between us so regularly. Because, let’s face it, the cornerstone of British society is complaining, and the pinnacle of complaint, right next to politics, is the weather.

And also, in the tough rain strewn times ahead, treat your bus drivers nice…

About The Author

A 21 year old English and Creative Writing student at Brunel Uni in Uxbridge. I write about a whole range of subjects and have a keen interest in journalism and writing in general. @BrynWGlover

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