"Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited" - John Cleese

Author John Corby also writes as "Bulldogge" for the British Canadian newspaper.

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

10 Things I Miss Most About Britain: #1 The Weather

Cold & Miserable
They say you can tell when it is summer in Britain - the rain turns warm. I remember British rain. That fine, light rain they call "drizzle" seemed to get into your bones and make you thoroughly cold and miserable. Sometimes it would be overcast and drizzly for two weeks straight. I recall waiting for a taxi outside Heathrow Airport one winter's day. The temperature was +2 degrees Celsius; it was drizzling and I felt colder than the day the mercury dropped to -29 degrees Celsius here in Toronto.

Danger of Frost!
A couple of years ago I found myself in England in January, listening to a weather forecast on "the telly". A cold weather warning was in effect. Motorists were warned to avoid all non-essential driving because the temperature might drop below freezing overnight. "Hmmm" I thought, "sometimes the January temperature in Toronto doesn't get above freezing for two weeks straight."

A Cold Day in July
And then, last summer, I was in the north-east of England. It was July. I was watching a horse show on a hill below the Penshaw Monument. The Penshaw Monument is a Doric tetrastyle folly (you can tell that to friends at a party sometime) dedicated to John George Lambton, Earl of Durham and the first Governor of the Dominion of Canada. The Canada link seemed very fitting because it was bloomin' cold there. I was wrapped in several layers but still I shivered from the cold - in July!

Lobster on the Beach

A few days ago temperatures in the United Queendom soared to the mid 20s. The British people did what they always do when there is a break in the clouds and a hint of temperatures in the tropical twenties, they jumped into their jalopies and headed for the coast. Those who didn't get stuck in traffic jams en-route to the seaside turned lobster pink sunbathing on Britain's shingle beaches.

Summer of '76
Were you in Britain during the summer of '76? Global Warming hadn't been invented then which is good, otherwise folks might have drawn some pretty dire conclusions when the temperature climbed into the 90s (Fahrenheit). in 1976, an 'air conditioner was something salons used after the shampoo had been rinsed out. We sweltered. At night we threw open our single-glazed windows in the vain hope that bedroom temperatures might drop low enough to allow us to get some sleep. But the summer of '76 was a freak event.

Oh, How I Miss British Winters
When I emigrated to Canada I thought how nice it would be to enjoy "real summers" and "real winters". I arrived mid-winter and started shovelling snow right away. That was almost thirty years ago; I feel like I haven't stopped shovelling since. After a couple of Canadian winters I revised my original thought to "isn't it nice to have real Canadian summers but wouldn't it be nice to have British winters again". Yes, in Britain it gets cold, damp and miserable for a few weeks and then it's spring again. Search as hard as you may, you can't find a snow shovel for love or money anywhere in the UK. Oh, how I miss those British winters.

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