If you plan on sharing a conversation with anyone in England, you better be prepared to discuss the weather. Without fail, it will be the second thing talked about regardless of the encounter you find yourself in. For example:
“You alright?” (Equivalent to ‘how are you doing’ often said without the ‘You’.)
“Ya, excellent|lovely|not bad.” (excellent is heavily used here and on par with ‘like’)
“So how ’bout that weather?|What crap weather.|Beautiful day we are having.|Absolutely pissing down.|…” (many more but all roughly the same)
The other person will usually take a long hard look into the sky, and then agree with the given conclusion.
Last night, apparently there was one of the most visible meteor showers of the year in the northern hemisphere. I was meandering down a very dark lane blasting my iPod to “The great gig in the sky” and gazing upwards into the lightly misting rain wishing the cloud cover would move. It got me thinking…
The conversation mentioned above almost never happens in California, never. The only time weather is discussed in California is when it is of the most extreme type. Deluging rain flooding intersections and causing the huge suburban vehicles to float away, hurricane force winds breaking 8 foot thick branches onto million dollar houses, hale breaking the windows of jewelry stores, etc. On average, A californian saves 6.8 days of their life by not having this frivolous conversation described above. Usually this time is spent tanning.
But I have realized that this conversation in England is actually very helpful. In my short time here on this Island, I have experienced some very strange weather patterns. Sunny days turning into rainy ones interchanged with blustery wind. Hale in the middle of Carribean BBQ’s. Extreme heat causing the country to panic and carry camel packs every where even though it was only in the high 20’s (celcius). So what happens is you become somewhat interested in this strange temporal activity. If someone should burst into your thought process as you think about this sort of thing, you can’t help but feel you should share this weirdness with someone else. In California, the weather is constant and generally boring. To discuss the weather is like describing how to make toast. Everyone just knows. But in England, no one really knows. So they work together.
Great time is spent simply considering the weather. For centuries and millenia this has been happening on this little island. Everyone shares their input and is happy to pass it on to the next person so that information can then be used in subsequent weather predictions with other weather “experts”. The long gazes into the sky, which is usually a solid gray, are actually finely tuned experiments that all English have been trained to perform. The result produced, although seemingly common and bland and not providing much further conversation, is actually exactly what every one wanted to hear to make sure this biologically distributed weather forecasting system is still working.
And some day, with enough trials, the English may very well figure out the weather to a perfect science. They are close now and it might only be a few more years. This can be seen with the obviously reused graphics of the island being used on TV during weather reports. Nothing ever changes… cloudy hear, rain moving in from the west, clouds to take over the east in the afternoon, blustery showers in the south, possibly clearing by the weekend. Even the weather girl seems to understand that she has been hired to read a dusty cue card that looks like it was written in the 60’s, which it was.
But the true benefit to all this can be seen on an early Saturday afternoon when the heavens have allowed for some vagrant sun to frolic below the cloud line and interact with the inhabitants of this island. The biological weather forecasting system has a core message sent throughout its inner workings and all of a sudden, half the population goes outside to the nearest park or field. Frisbees are thrown, cricket is played, dogs seem happier, and the weather is discussed with a slight connotation of “We knew it”.