Weather, or not

December 17, 2012

It’s one of those easy clichés, that Brits talk about the weather a lot. Along with queueing (the longest word with the most amount of vowels in a row in the language, fact-fans), bad teeth and terrible food, it’s something that defines us.

I’d always largely ignored it, just chalking it up to what’s known as phatic communication, which is just conversation for the sake of making friends. But reading UK news websites from 10,000 miles away, its becoming clearer to me that Britain’s weather is, in fact, spectacularly and uniquely shit.

For people who live there, crap weather is a fact of life, and largely put up with. For observers from the outside, the headlines about rain, floods, snow, hypothermic pensioners and winter fuel bills seem, well, odd. If an alien had to choose a terrible place to live on Planet Earth, based on climatic conditions, the UK would be pretty high up the list.

Some of this might be due to Brits’ cheerful moaning. And it might have got worse thanks to anthropogenic global warming: I couldn’t say. But I can confidently say that hardly a day goes past without a UK newspaper reporting on how awful the weather is, how some Devon hamlet has been washed away or how the country’s transport system has been paralysed by a snowfall.

Here in Cambodia, the weather is also tricky. Last year, hundreds of people died in truly terrible floods. In the rainy season, for people with a borderline existence, life can be touch-and-go. But at least no one is going to die of hypothermia.


Some rain in Cambodia

Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s savagely, unforgivingly, unremittingly hot. I’ve always thought that the Khmer Rouge’s insistence that everyone dress entirely in black was one of the ultimate proofs of their lack of humanity, akin to smacking yourself in the face with a tyre-iron. Under the Cambodian sun, wearing black is madness (although driving a black Range Rover is considered terrifically cool…).

It’s now the ’cool season’ here in the kingdom of wonder. This is nice. I woke up the other morning to discover that I’d turned off the fan in my sleep during the night, it was that cold. But not that cold: I don’t possess a top sheet, let alone a comforter, duvet or a blanket. For my balcony coffee in the morning, I’m wearing a t-shirt this month, much to the relief of my neighbours, I’m sure. But that’s about as good as it gets. The locals, who are weirdly well adapted to the furnace-like conditions, are wearing gloves, cardigans and warm vests. I’m sweating marginally less.

April and May are just around the corner, bringing with them appallingly supercharged sunshine. But I don’t mind all that much. Sitting on the balcony, with a mango and a cup of decent coffee, enjoying Californian weather, seems to me to be OK, compared to shuffling along frost-encrusted streets, wearing 17 layers, battling sleet and torrential rain. Sorry about that, everyone.


One Response to “Weather, or not”

  1. said

    I am positively enjoying the current non stop rain, grey overcast skies. Really looking forward the winds this WE. OK maybe not, but I will be laughing when we have the long evenings next summer!
    Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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