The Glorious British Summer

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The Met Office promised us a Barbecue Summer back in February. I should have followed my instincts and placed a bet on the contrary outcome; but then, I don’t bet — too much of a coward, you see.

I recall the U.S. equivalent of our Met Office were less “optimistic”: they maintained the Jet Stream was “too far gone”, or something like that. Their verdict? Summer in Northern Europe — including the UK — would be wet and averagely warm(ish).

They got it right: Summer 2009 in the UK has been almost a washout: not the wettest of all time, to be sure (although I seem to be developing webbed feet), but certainly not the promised BBQ Summer, unless all the BBQs you’ve ever attended have been spent huddling under a golf umbrella tending to agrll laden down with soggy sausages and part-boiled burgers. (Actually, most of mine have).

Now the Met boys (and girls) have “revised” their forecast: Summer 2009 will not be a “BBQ Summer”, after all. August — all we have left to call a Summer — will be “unsettled”.

Well, we Brits love to complain about the weather, and seemingly endless rain makes for the perfect whinge.

Fact is, Britain has a “maritime” climate, governed by the Gulf Stream and the general trend of storms to form over the Carribean and move slowly and inevitably northeastwards toward the British Isles. That’s why we are further north than New York or Moscow and yet our winters are wet and mild.

The promises/portents of a climate which is hot and dry in the summer and wet and windy in the winter — a result of Climate Change — still seem a way off. Actually, since the world has been cooling since the beginning of this century, that  should come as no surprise. Summers will be cool and damp, winters will get colder.

SUMO — shut up, move on …

The UK Met Office will no doubt keep forecasting BBQ Summers in the years to come — presumably on the grounds that the longer you say it, the greater the chance of something happening which is broadly similar to the prediction you keep making, will happen.

But Britain’s stereotypical damp climate is not be condemned outright: would the heroic pioneers and colonialists have set forth to conquer important bits of the world to turn them pink on the map, had it not been for the fact that the weather in Zanzibar, or the Punjab or New Holland was generally better than back in Old Blighty? Perhaps that even explains why we left the extra-rainy or uncomfortably cold places to France or Russia or the Netherlands to stick their flag on.

No, Summer 2009 is officially #crapsummer, to use Twitter parlance, but it is the British Summer, and this Summer — and dozens like it down the years — have made us Brits what we are today: miserable, yes, but also resigned to the fact that sometimes, you just have to take what you get — and make the most of it!

If only the rest of the world would get that message.