I love weather forecasters. Today on radio 4 the guy said, ‘there will be a bit and piece of rain,’ and then, referring to some bad weather, ‘we hope all this sort of nonsense will soon stop.’
I love the way they keep making up new ways to describe the weather, because unlike the ‘scorchio!’ forecasts for southern Europe, there is always something new to say about the British weather.
I think the radio ones are best. On TV they tend to be dominated by the satellite pictures, with the hapless forecaster, unable to see the pictures, struggling to keep up with what’s happening behind them and aware that their words are not the main focus of your attention. And in the press they tend to be highly dramatic: hardly a summer passes without a ‘heatwave’ forecast; barely a winter survives without the threat of a freeze that’s ‘set to last for weeks’. But usually both heatwave and cold conditions (why don’t we ever have a coldwave?) fail to materialise – although last winter we did have some sort of polar event (an ice-stream, did they call it?) which lasted a hell of a long time. But this summer’s predicted heatwave turned out to be more of a wavelet, stretching to not much more than a week.
But on the radio the words are all you’ve got, and so they go the extra mile to be inventive. I love the idea of referring to bad weather as ‘nonsense.’ It’s like ticking the weather off; as if it were a naughty child and the forecaster a strict nanny.
We British, as is frequently observed, have an interesting relationship with the weather. Half-god, half-disobedient child, it’s a source of wonder, annoyance, bafflement and amusement. It generates bus-stop conversations, shrieks of surprise and frequent changes of clothing. Out come the memories, too: the winter of ’63; the summer of ’76 – and, if you’re on the East coast, the floods of ’53. The weather is like the sea; ever-changing, ever-varied, always interesting and – despite the best efforts of the valiant weather-forecaster, unpredictable.
Sadly I can’t find a link to that particular forecast, which was on today at just before 1 pm.
But it does occur to me that my title today sounds a little like de Gaulle in Canada:
Vive le Quebec! Vive le Quebec libre!