Thursday, December 6, 2007

But if we weren't wet, we wouldn't need to dry out in pubs

OK, lovers of stereotypes, what do we know about Britain?
- People here have funny accents.
- Everyone has bad teeth.
- They all drink warm beer.
- It rains a lot.

Well, the first two aren't all that true, unless by "Britain" what you really mean is "Barry." Interestingly, those two stereotypes could also be used to describe the American South.

The third one is only partially true, and less likely to be true in areas where the first two are true. Go round to Ricky Hatton's local and odds are they're all drinking cold pints of Carling.

But the thing about the rain -- that's true. Granted, there are long stretches of lovely weather, but it does rain with a certain frequency not seen in, say, San Diego, California. Yet, bafflingly, the person-to-rain-jacket ratio there appears to be about the same as here.

For reasons totally unclear to me, hardly anyone in this country owns wet-weather gear. Or, if they do, they refuse to wear it. Britons sometimes possess a certain stroppy teenager element to their behaviour -- I am convinced that there are so many atheists in this country not because they've all sat down and tried to reason out their standing in the universe, but simply because church isn't cool. Church. Cringe. Church is mingin'. (a)

In Minnesota, it's not rare to see some idiot teenager standing around in 10-below weather wearing little more than a hooded sweatshirt ("hoodie jumper," for our friends in the Home Nations), but these people either freeze to death or gain a bit of sense by they time they reach their early 20s.

Similarly, it's not shocking to see the Bishop of Llandaff students trudging around in the rain looking as if they've just been pulled from the Taff (b). But the adults are wandering about doing pretty much the same thing.

It has been raining for most of the past week in Yr Hen Ddinas, in that way that always reminds me of nautical films. I live three miles from the coast, but the weather makes me feel as if I am at sea. The wind whistles and thumps and roars against the house, and sheets of spitting rain splatter against the windows. So, I wrap up in my Marmot rain jacket before venturing outside, which means I don't have to spend the whole day feeling as if I commuted via one of those amusement park splash rides.

At the train platform this morning I was one of only two people who had thought to dress for the weather. Everyone else was out there in their office attire, getting soaked. There were a handful of women who at least were attempting to defend themselves with umbrellas, but for the most part everyone stood around looking miserable. What the hell is wrong with these people? Buy a rain jacket, you fools!

(a) That teen-speak is blatantly copied from Catrin Dafydd's Random Deaths and Custard.

(b) Check me out; rocking the blog with the ultra-local references.


Curly said...

People do have the gear, but they save it for hiking or other real outdoors-y stuff.

Mingin' is thankfully, one of the only few words ending in "n'" that's been a part of my regular vocab - I've been know to say Nobblin', Hangin' and Moilin' before now.

Huw said...

A Turk once made the exact same observation to me.

I think that if Brits took affirmative action against the weather - used raincoats, had air-conditioning, etc - we'd no longer have much cause to talk about the weather. And then no-one would ever speak to each other again.