My mother always held that what made the British different (and of course necessarily superior to all other life forms in the universe – she was never one to limit her horizons) was that we had weather whereas the rest suffered from having a climate. What she meant (apart from the breathtakingly stupendous arrogance – ah, sweet!) was while we had an infinite variety of seasons and conditions we didn’t have the extremes of heat or cold, wind or drought, flood or Avalanche. That accounted for the more temperate nature to these islands’ peoples she might have said (conveniently ignoring our ingrained urge to go and fight foreign wars where we are not wanted, the aggrandising inclination to retain a ‘place in the world’ to replace our acquisitive empire building tendencies and our then (and still continuing) xenophobic resistance to treating any ‘migrant crisis’ (we had them in the 70s just as much as now) as about people not numbers.
Sorry, this was meant to be a light piece and mum was nothing but humane – she would have been disgusted as I am by 71 dead and mouldering in a truck in Austria, and the other estimated 2500 dead trying to cross the Med simply aiming for a better life).
Ok, back to the weather…
If I think back, my memories stretching to about 1960, the following weather extremes stand out:
1962/63 the coldest winter by a distance. The sea froze near my gran’s on the North Kent coast and we pulled a toboggan to the shops as the pavements were snow covered from January to March. Now, in the South of England at least, it’s not every year we have snow and it rarely lasts more than a couple of days.
1976 the summer of drought. Temperatures in that July haven’t been exceeded. I worked in a hotel – the inspiration (and perspiration) for my first book – and flies did die in mid flight and plummet into the food.
2010 and a number of years since the floods as our rainfall has concentrated into tropical bursts.
And that’s about it. It has been getting warmer. We have managed a temperature in the UK just above 100 Fahrenheit but only once I think (in 2003). But generally things aren’t that different to years ago. Yet. I’m not a climate change denier. But apart from growing better tomatoes outdoors than Dad did twenty five years ago and seeing the grape harvests grow, it’s not much different.
Charli Mills‘ prompt this week is about weather extremes. In her Northern Idaho eerie she is suffering from the Forest Fire season. It looks utterly grim. I hope it rains soon and for a long time.
This is the prompt.
August 26, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the need for help in an extreme weather event. Is the help local or global? Does it arrive or the plea go ignored? It doesn’t have to be fire. Think about extreme weather occurrences and consequences.
And this is my take, with Mary and her family taking a chance on the bank holiday weather camping. For more episodes from the North family, click here.
Mary peered out of the tent at the rain. ‘More like a waterfall,’ she thought, given rain should come in drops. Behind her Penny squealed ‘snap’! followed by a groan from her husband Paul. Mary squinted at where their car sat. Between it and the tent the grass had gone, replaced by a moat. Any moment, she thought and they’d float. She rocked her baby and smiled.
A hand touched her shoulder. ‘Perfect break, eh?’ Paul nibbled her neck and she shivered. ‘Gross, dad.’ Penny pushed him and he rolled over, laughing.
Her family: Mary was saturated with love.