The Cold-A Great British Obsession

Posted on March 29, 2013

Nearly every conversation that I have been involved in since February has started with a two way discussion about how bloody cold it is; it is something that is near on impossible to avoid. It almost feels like we  are relishing in the misery of the weather being one of the few things we can do absolutely nothing to change. Watching the forecast is like watching Groundhog Day, with constant reminders about the stubborn easterly wind drawing in air from Siberia and Scandinavia and pushing away any warm air from the south or west.

Of course, cold weather is something of  novelty in the south of the UK and when the snow arrived in January there was a real sense of excitement about the dramatic change in the landscape that only snow can offer; l can remember someone quipping that even the council estates looked pretty. Estimates will vary but I reckon it takes the average Brit five days to get fed up with the novelty of the cold, so after day after day and week after week of easterly blasts from Siberia, we are all starting to wonder if we are actually going to get out of this alive.

Surely it is the job of forecasters to offer hope but they seem to have given up as well, suggesting with gritted teeth, a tut and a wry smile that the current pattern of weather may not break down for another month. If you actually finish reading this post you may agree with me that this could be bad news in more ways than one. You have to feel for the forecasters sometimes, they have become the Grim Reapers of the British weather; another summer like last year and they will be right up there with dentists, estate agents and City bankers in the popularity stakes. It is easy to forget that the weather is not actually their fault, it’s not like they design it themselves on a BBC computer and offer it up to us after the news at six.

However, like any profession some of them offer genuine pity whilst others relish in the human trait that comes from the power of bringing traumatic news; a bit like people who can’t wait to get to the pub to be the first to announce that some poor bastard is dead. Personally, I tend to lean towards the really negative bastards as like many men, I can take the misery, it’s the hope I can’t deal with. If a forecaster says “Just the hint of something warmer by the weekend” I take that as read and start behaving like a boy who’s father has said he might take him to beach if he behaves. Hopefully I wont bump to Peter Gibbs from the Met Office in the next week or two as the conversation would go like this:

Me: “You said it would be warmer by now”

Gibbs: “No I didn’t, I said there was just a hint of something warmer” 

Me: “You said it would be warmer.”

Gibbs: “NO I DID NOT”

Me: “IT’S NOT BLOODY FAIR!” (Door slams)

Gibbs (Under breath): “Prick”

A classic example of a recent weather chart that makes us freeze in winter and bake in summer

As is always the case with the weather, there is some vintage British irony about all of this, because if you are as sad as me and you have have the time and inclination to view an Atlantic weather chart (see above or on the BBC website) you will see that there is a huge ridge of high pressure sat to the north east of the UK. This is the culprit that is blocking the warmer, albeit much wetter air from moving in from the Atlantic. If that high pressure was not there the conversations would swing from “Why is it so cold?” to “When is it going to stop raining?”

It would not be unreasonable to call this pressure system a complete an utter bastard. However, this bastard we all want to disappear may just do so when we need it most; when summer arrives. It is hard to believe, but if it was July now, that same weather pattern that you see on that pressure chart would have us sizzling in a heatwave with temperatures in the 80’s. It is the law of being British that the high pressure wont be there when we need it, but we should really start hoping that it continues to dominate our weather; particularly if you are like me and you enjoy partaking in summer sports that are impossible in the rain.

So, as always in life, we should be careful what we wish for, because if that high pressure buggers off at the end of April, we will be bludgeoned by a plethora of low pressure systems streaming in from the Atlantic bringing with them rain and wind for the summer, yet again. I am not sure how many of us could handle another summer washout, so let’s get past another couple of weeks of cold and hope that the high pressure that has given such a freezing winter, pays us back with a summer to remember. As the days get longer and the sun grows stronger (is that a poem?)  if the high pressure hangs around it will soon start to warm up, and the bastard son of our winter will become the darling of summer.

Then all will be forgiven!





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