WHATEVER the WEATHER – Sue Lilley: Storyfinds blog 20.03.17
It’s well known we Brits are obsessive about the weather. It’s usually our first topic of daily conversation. But in our defence, for a small country, we do sometimes have the weirdest weather. The other day I bought a bunch of the first spring daffodils – early flowering because it’s been so mild. The next morning I woke up to six inches of snow. We’re meant to have four seasons, but not all on the same day!
It’s impossible to plan anything. If the sun makes an appearance, blue winter legs and arms might come out of hiding – with a big coat to hand! A barbecue may be optimistically suggested – with a convenient garage and patio heater on standby.
Christmas will sometimes mean snow but more often a mild day for walking along the beach in a cosy knit. Kids get presents of sledges and bikes, therefore learning at a young age that it’s wise to hedge their bets. Easter used to be the traditional time for girls to get their summer dresses out. Now it can be colder than Christmas or hotter than July. I’ve celebrated my birthday in the last snow of spring but also with a picnic during a proper heatwave. May can usually be relied upon for scorching weather when all the kids are doing exams. But come July when the schools break up for the summer, it will likely be endless rainy days.
We Brits are good at rain. When I worked for an insurance company, we sold Pluvius insurance – named after the Roman god of rain. I suspect this is a peculiarly British product – the opportunity to insure your garden fete against loss of revenue due to low attendance if it rains! We must be keeping umbrella makers in business. I have to confess I own so many umbrellas I’d be embarrassed to count them. I keep one in my desk, one in the car and one for every size of handbag, including a particularly tiny one for my special “going out” clutch.
It’s fashionable to blame global-warming. I think it’s more likely to be our dodgy memories of what summers were like “in our day.” But I’m sure it was never this extreme.
My novel ANOTHER SUMMER was inspired by extreme weather. I was in Cornwall soon after a severe storm had caused major flooding. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge which had been destroyed by a rampant river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris and not a soul in sight. I started thinking what if….?