What’s the thing most people talk about in the UK? Well, at the moment it’s possibly Brexit, though it’s banned in our house as I can’t bear to discuss it. However, a safe topic many of us resort to when meeting strangers or having chit-chat, is the weather. It’s part of our stereotype, but as with many stereotypes, there’s a lot of truth in it. Almost every day, in coverstation with family, friends, colleagues and on social media, I’ll make reference to our every-changing English weather. Because it does change all the time; some days we can see all four seasons in 24 hours. I love its variety, from the drizzle of a rainy weekend in the Lake District, to a sunny day in Stratford-upon-Avon. Love it or hate it, this country’s mercurial weather is one of the things that unites us.
For Christmas this year I got a book of poetry, Anecdotal Evidence by wonderful Wendy Cope, whose quirky, often acerbic take on life is chronicled via her pithy poetry. I first came across her work a few years ago in another poetry collection, Serious Concerns. (You can read her A Green Song to Sing at the Bottle Bank here.) One of my favourite poems in this collection is English Weather, which splendidly evokes the 12 months of the year in a most unromantic way and has one of the best rhymes for ‘mist’ I’ve ever read …
January’s grey and slushy,
February’s chill and drear,
March is wild and wet and windy,
April seldom brings much cheer.
In May a day or two of sunshine,
Three or four in June, perhaps.
July is usually filthy,
August skies are open taps.
In September things start dying,
Then comes October mist.
November we make plans to spend
The best part of December pissed.
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I spent New Year in the Scottish Borders town of Kirkcudbright. I arrived on an overcast day with a touch of drizzle. The sun came out intermittently the next day and it was unseasonably mild. New Year’s Day was gloriously sunny adn the following day was frosty and beautiful. I returned to North Lancashire where it was cloudy and raining heavily. Typical 4 days in winter …