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Ten things we are going to miss when we leave Britain – Part 1. Weather

May 18, 2010

No authentic British conversation can start without mentioning the weather, so let me start my little series with precisely that.

Siuto reminded me yesterday that I have been in this country for 9 years now, spending about half of my time here each year. Now that I have made a mess of my exams and subsequently tidied it up, it is time to leave. In Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the dophins, being the second most intelligent life form on Earth (human being the third), left the planet a few days before it (the Earth) was demolished. When they depart, they left a message to mankind, saying, “So long, and thanks for all the fish“. Not that Britain is going to be demolished, but I thought it would be nice to write my own So long and thanks. These are not necessarily British things in nature, but are things that I feel privileged to enjoy while I am in Britain.

The first item I am putting on my list, however, is quintessentially British – the weather. British people will think I am being sarcastic. Over time I, too, have picked up British people’s favourite pastime of moaning about the weather, but there is in truth something quite loveable about the British weather. Yes, it is wet and grim and there is a severe lack of day-time in Winter, but what it steals in the Winter it pays back in the Summer. British Summers are warm but not too hot and the sun stays up till 9pm in the evening. As for the remaining times of the year, yes, it’s hard to count the days without a bit of sprinkle off the sky, but that’s all it is, sprinkles off the sky. If you are lazy like me, there is hardly even a need to open an umbrella under the British showers, one rarely encounters a degree of wetness that cannot be shielded by a jacket. I have only seen rain heavy enough to remind me of proper Hong Kong rain once or twice in the nine years I have lived here. The same can be said for the snow, the wind and the sun. Mostly harmless, that’s the nature of British weather. It’s like the type of people who likes to moan about every other thing, but they are never truly deeply depressed or angry about the matter. It’s like British people.

The truth is that the moody weather is every Brit’s mutual friend. When businessmen meet and want to start the negotiation with an inoffensive exchange, they mention the weather; when two strangers meet at a pub and need something to break the ice, they complain about the weather together. In fact, research has shown that discussing a mutually disliked topic is even more effective in social bonding than discussing one that both like. Should the climate change decide to take away Britain’s grim weather, I have a feeling that the British society will fall apart and its economy will crumble.

When I go back to Hong Kong, on days when rain is so heavy that slopes are being washed away, on days when the wind is so strong that trees are pulled off its roots, on days when the sun is so bright walking to the nearest convenient store soaks one’s back in sweat, I am going to miss the British weather.

That’s all for part one, next time I shall talk about something American, something that starts with an A.

Oh I forgot to mention, the weather was bright and sunny when I started writing this, now it’s cloudy and grey again.

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