The very unpredictability of English weather always seems to take us by surprise: a few weeks of summer sunshine results in near-drought conditions and garden hose bans; a few days of heavy rainfall causes rivers to swell their banks and disastrous floods; a ‘cold snap’ can bring the country to a standstill. Trains have been known to grind to a halt because of ‘leaves on the track’ and ‘the wrong kind of snow’.It’s widely known that when two British people meet, their first conversation is about the weather.

11. The Weather

In a train or a bus queue for example, if you get into conversation with anyone at all, it will probably be about the rain, sunshine, wind, cold, etc.  The primary function of this fascination is, of course, to break down the English person’s natural reserve; the weather offers a universal, and neutral topic which everyone, from a small child to an elderly grandmother, is interested in and enjoys discussing.

Other countries endure far more noteworthy weather events – droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes – but the British weather is, above all, unpredictable. Sunshine, showers, wind and rain sweep across our little island with extraordinary speed, providing an ever-changing outlook and making forecasting difficult (and often incorrect).

In these days of global warming, English people can now enjoy discussing ever more unpredictable weather – blizzards in April, floods in July, and so on. In fact we’ve just experienced the warmest November on record; In some parts of the country daffodils have been popping up, mistaking the warm weather for Spring.  December is proving to be much, much colder though with cold spells sweeping down from the north….which forms the topic of another great British conversation; will we ever have a white Christmas?