Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Homicidal Weather

Well today’s post was inspired by my friend Kelly’s most recent post, were after mere weeks after moving to Sunny Florida, she’s already experienced her first tropical storm.

To understand this post properly, you have to understand something about use British people:

When you go on vacation, what do you actually leave your state or country for? Chances are you’re going away for a vacation because you want to go sight-seeing, experience a new culture and basically experience something ‘different’.

Pretty much the only reason that British people get on that plane is the weather. We could give a damn about sight seeing and other cultures…the only sight we’re interested in seeing is the sun.

You see, no matter where you live in England, about 60-70% of the days are totally overcast and it rains at least three days out of five. 75 degrees in midsummer is considered hot. To put it another way, you can literally go for months without ever seeing the sun, and for the majority of the time the world looks like a damp, gray, miserable place.

But you know what? I’m actually going to defend British weather today.

Sure, there’s nothing quite so depressing as getting up in the morning and heading to work while it’s still dark, cold and raining…but you know what British weather is? It’s consistent. There are no surprises. It’s never ridiculously hot, never ridiculously cold…in fact, British weather is a lot like it’s people are supposed to be, moderate and reserved.

Ok, I admit that British weather being consistent basically means that any time you head out of your door it’s going to be gray, wet and you’ll have to wear a coat…but whereas British weather is a depressed old lady who moans at you when you walk past her house…America’s is a crazy cat-lady who screams, throws things and might just be packing heat.

Any Brit moving to or visiting the states considers the weather to be a massive bonus. Then we get here and realize that there are worse things than rain.

For example, the Southern Heat is something that we actually expect, even if we aren’t prepared for it. As I said in a recent post, the midday sun in the dead of an SC summer is enough to reduce even the hardiest Brit to a cloud of ash in just a few minutes.

Then we get to the sting in the tail. To a Brit, it being way too hot is almost a good thing. You go back to England (where it’s inevitably been cold, gray and raining while you where away) and brag about how it was 110 degrees in the shade on your vacation.

However, when you’ve been here a while, there’s nothing quite like the experience you have that first time you find yourself legging it as fast as you can to your mother-in-law’s house because she has a basement. It’s like the whole state has become one big roulette wheel, and if that ball ends up on your number…it’s time to put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

The one thing I certainly wasn’t prepared for was the freaking ice storms.

You see, I honestly laughed the first time I saw a road sign in SC warning about ice. My whole experience of SC was blistering heat, there’s just no way it could get that cold here, surely?

Then I experience my first winter and holy shit it was cold. I mean, epic cold. South Carolina is the place they make cold and ship it to other places.

In case you’ve never experienced the joy of an ice storm, here’s what basically happens. An ice storm is what occurs when you get rain mixed with uber-cold conditions. The rain literally freezes the second it touches something.

The big downside of this is that rain actually weighs quite a lot. Within minutes you have literally tons of ice stuck to tree limbs, power lines and everything else. So within half an hour of the ice-storm hitting, trees are falling over, power lines are coming down…which means not only is it minus thirty, you don’t have any electricity and you can’t go anywhere (Even if you could open the doors of your car that have frozen shut and cajole the engine to start, you might as well be driving on an ice-rink).

During the last one, we ended up having to go to my Step-Daughter’s house (who luckily lived less than a hundred yards away at the time) because she had a fireplace. It was like something out of ‘The Day After Tommorrow’. We had me and Sunny, my step-daughter’s family and one of my step-son’s family sitting in the dark, huddled around a fire trying to sleep and keep the fire roaring at the same time.

The saddest part is we actually got off easy. Our power came back just over thirty hours after it went out. Some people were still without power almost two weeks later.

My point is this:

British weather might be cold and miserable and it’s impossible to plan a cookout more than fifteen seconds in advance.

On the upside, it doesn’t actively try to kill you.


Kelly said...

I'm hearing ya!!

I went out for a walk today, because I needed some things from the store and a little rain was not going to stop me. So I put on my jeans and a t shirt (because it's still warm!) and walked the half mile or so.

I got soaking wet, but it was actually quite exhilerating. Until the guy in the store looked at me like I was some kind of maniac and said "You walked here? In this rain?" ....Let's forget for a moment the urge I had to furnish him with a sarcastic response like "Well, I had started to fly but my wings got wet".....What I actually said was "It's only rain, there's no wind, and no storm, we have rain like this in England all the time".......He shook his head and said "No one gets rain like WE get rain"

I had forgotten for a moment that everything here is bigger and better......

And for the record, I wouldn't go walking in a storm, but it genuinely is just a bit of rain....

delmer said...

Last year (and maybe every year, for all I know) they had flooding in England as it had been raining forever.

The day I arrived, and maybe the day before, it was sunny and pleasant. It was that way my whole stay ... 10 days as I recall. It didn't rain at all. (This Saturday marks a year since my trip to England began.)

Paulius said...

Kelly: Yup...everything is bigger, better and more advanced in the states. Just wait until people start asking you if you lived in a thatched cottage, whether England has supermarkets...and total disbelief that England has computers


Well 'flooding' in England means a few roads get washed out and maybe a few people need to get new carpet...not the whole homes floating down the road like you get here.

As for your trip, all I can say is you were very, very lucky. In the 23 years I lived in England and don't remember a two week period in ANY season without rain.