Why are us Brits so obsessed with the weather?

Ellen's children cooling off at the beach

Ellen's children cooling off at the beach - Credit: Archant

Oscar Wilde once said conversation about the weather was the “last refuge of the unimaginative”, writes 2.4 Children columnist Ellen Widdup.

And yet this banal conversation filler is actually one of the favourite topics of our great nation.

I imagine our preoccupation with it is mainly due to the fact that here in the UK it is unpredictable and rarely consistent from year to year.

And we also love a good moan – the topic of climate certainly providing us with ample opportunity.

We spend most of the year complaining about how cold, drizzly and depressing it is.


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We dream of long, glorious summer days when the sun shines endlessly, the paddling pools are out and the train tracks melt.

But then when the mercury rises we experience an initial surge of excitement followed by a whole new level of grumpiness.

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Already this summer Manchester has been hotter than Malawi, Bognor has beaten Barbados and Suffolk was steamier than the Serengeti.

And boy, have we been we miserable about it.

Here are some reasons why:

1. The British do translucent skin like few other nations. Pale, pasty, freckly, wan. It’s a wonder that we survive with so little Vitamin D in our systems.

And yet, the second the sun breaks through the clouds we believe ourselves to be as hardy to its rays as the olive-skinned bikini beauties that reside in the Med.

2. Nudity. A burden of expected semi-cladedness is placed upon the shoulders of all females regardless of age, body image and self-consciousness and let’s face it, none of us are prepared.

Meanwhile men don’t seem to have the same concern about appearances so subject us all to their middle-aged spread, tattoos and hairy chests.

3. Originality goes out of the window. Or, more accurately, originality wanders out of the door and down the road to the park or the beach… along with everybody else.

And this means those places are not the retreat from heat we are after but are instead, a sweltering, panting, sticky mass of clammy flesh.

4. Hayfever. If, like me, you are plagued with the sniffles from May to September, summer is a hideous mix of pollen and pollution.

5. Sweat. You can’t sleep for hours and then wake in a tangled mess of damp bedsheets.

Using your hairdryer is a pointless exercise so you look frizzy, unkempt and frazzled from the moment you get up.

Your commute to work might involve a nice drive in an air conditioned vehicle but will more likely involve walking (sweaty), taking a bus (sweaty) or being stuck inside a train carriage (like being chucked into the fiery furnace of hell).

The British heatwave. Dipping your feet in the North Sea and suffering frostbite, dripping Mr Wippy on your expensive new summer dress, sitting in a three-hour traffic jam trying to get to some grim place of forced fun.

But you can’t complain. Not really.

I, on the other hand, am allowed to.

You see there are plenty of things that go together like rama lama ding dong.

Salt and pepper, tea and crumpets, buckets and spades, cheese and wine, milk and cookies. And that’s just for starters.

But pregnancy and heatwaves are not one of them.

Firstly, all alcoholic treats are off limits. And I could really do with a frozen margarita right now.

And then, there is your wardrobe. And let me tell you, there is nothing attractive about the oversized vests and baggy pants I have been sitting around in of late.

I’m swollen. Not just my ankles but my legs, my bum, my face for heaven’s sake.

Yesterday I almost got stuck between two cars in the parking lot of Tesco.

Who do you call when that happens? The police?

“Sorry to bother you officer, but I’m so large I’ve accidentally wedged my body between two hunks of metal.”They don’t make a suncream lotion bottle big enough to smother over the colossal mass I have become.

And I can no longer reach over my swollen belly to paint my toes nails, shave my legs or tidy up my bikini line – all necessary requirements for going out anywhere in summer.

Other people have no respect for a pregnant woman’s personal space either.

There’s all sorts of uncalled for stomach touching going on which just makes me hotter and more irritable.

Besides which I don’t want to get to close to other people in the heat.

My sense of smell is superhero-esque and I am amazed how many people seem to be forgetting to apply deodorant.

Last time I was heavily pregnant in the peak of winter.

There was heavy snow and ice on the ground and we were house bound. And I thought that was bad.

But being pregnant means you’re hot all the time and being pregnant when it’s hot outside is a whole different kind of torture.

Now I truly understand why people wince when pregnant women admit to a late summer due date.

This heat is sapping all my energy leaving me barely able to switch off Jeremy Kyle and lever myself off the couch.

The only time I can muster it is when heading to the freezer for another liberal scoop of ice cream.

That and a dose of prescribed antacid tablets which I crush up on top of my v anilla scoop like a hundreds and thousands alternative.

Now Oscar Wilde couldn’t call that “unimaginative” could he?

Follow Ellen @EllenWiddupSee more from Ellen here

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