Weather or climate?

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.

cartoon boat people

This cartoon is by the Australian Simon Kneebone, about the people fleeing to Australia but to me says it all

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…


Typical English weather? Or the tropics?

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.

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Now we scale mountains and put on silly hats and faces and freeze to enjoy the snow – believe me we were frozen here!

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.

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While there is one constant in the UK: the later summer bank holiday weekend arrives and with it – the rain….

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.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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25 Responses to Weather or climate?

  1. lucciagray says:

    I still remember the summer of ’76! I’ve been living in Spain for a long time, but I gather it hasn’t been so hot for so long again. I think I was working at Debenhams, Harrow, for part of the summer, not half as exciting as your hotel work, judging by Dead Flies and Cherry Trifle! Lovely flash. Who cares about the rain if there are other compensations to life… I’ll try and get back to Carrot Ranch and my blogging routine and join you all again asap. It’s been a strange / hot / overworked / stressful / exciting summer for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gordon759 says:

    And after any extreme weather event, snow, wind or excessive sun. Dad would go to his beloved Gilbert White and pour through his journals to discover that Parson White had recorded a very similar event in the eighteenth century. I remember he was delighted to find that a very similar summer to that of 1976 had occurred in (I think) 1740.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love to have a bit of a moan about our weather, but it is nothing if not an adventure! There are not that many countries that get all four seasons in one day like we do. Going for a day out dressed in shorts but taking a jumper, raincoat and closed-in shoes ‘just in case’ is par for the course with our weather!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      You’re right, we do take a chance of we don’t prepare for monsoon and moonshine. I went out for a day in town recently in a T shirt. Beautiful balmy day. But then I found myself waiting on a platform for a retrain and it was a freezing bloody wind tunnel. Only place in London under 25 degrees and I had to stand in it with my nadgers shrinking to peanuts.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ali Isaac says:

    You may be getting hotter, but over here we’re getting your share of the rain, and have been all summer, on top of our own!

    Lovely flash piece, btw. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. trifflepudling says:

    The heavy part of the piece stayed with me! I can’t imagine what the migrants’ lives have been like or even what they’re like now, but sympathy isn’t enough. They need jobs, somewhere to live, to be able to speak English, to actually have a strong wish to be ‘here’ rather than not wanting to be ‘there’ (two very different aspects of the same thing). I can’t see most countries in Europe being able to manage this successfully and for the outcome, 50 or so years down the line, to be successful and happy. The situation needs addressing at the other end – you can’t just let those other countries go from bad to worse and not try to do something about it (not advocating invasion or anything!) and expect everything to be ok. But how useful is anything else? A huge problem and very complex. I sound unsympathetic but I’m not. Been thinking about this for many months. I work in a multicultural environment so know and love many people from round the world. (That sounds like “some of my best friends are … x, y, z!”). Sigh.
    I missed most of 76 summer, was working abroad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      You are totally right, the solution is not here or in Europe and it’s giving an aspirin to the brain tumour patient to think it is. The headache, right now is thinking of a way to achieve stability in those failing regions. No idea but that is where a lot of money, support etc needs to be sent.


  6. Winter 62/3: as Treasurer of the rugby club I had the easiest year ever. No play for 3 months, so no hectoring to collect the subs from five team captains.
    Summer 76:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Autism Mom says:

    Interesting that someone would make a distinction between weather and climate – I had never thought about it that way before.

    The “heavy” part as so aptly put, is very sad. I would not let my son see the news story about it. I will explain it to him later, when I figure out how to do it …

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always thought the Winter of 1947 was the worst (not that I was there of course) but because my Auntie Beryl said that during that Winter they had to delivery food to people through the upstairs windows of the houses because the snow was so deep. She did like to tell the odd story (usually after that first Sherry on Christmas Day) . According to her it started snowing on Boxing Day and did not stop until Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your weather is one of the reasons my husband remained here in Aus. He was sick of drizzle on weekends and holidays. I do remember some severe weather though in the UK – it was either 85 or 86 you had a mini hurricaine come through the south (at least) uprooting trees and removing rooves. In 1990 there was a heat wave. Perhaps the temperature didn’t quite reach 100 degrees but standing in a huge queue to visit the Tower of London I can tell you it felt as though it had (perhaps it was the tempers flaring along with the heat). In 1996-97 there was extreme cold (enough to freeze the fuel in our fuel lines.)
    Loved Mary being saturated with love.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Charli Mills says:

    I feel like Mary has returned with the elixir — from her devastation of all she discovered (or has yet to) after her father’s untimely death to this moment of family bliss. A beautiful flash and an interesting reflection on English weather. Your thoughts on people moving to a better life only to lose it, makes me think of need we have to seek security and happiness. Which is better? To die in dire straights or to die escaping them? I don’t know. I’d rather have my worst complaint be a saturated camping tent for a weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

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