Wednesday, 27 March 2013


What has happened to our seasons? They were once reasonably reliable, at least here in the UK. 'Unseasonable weather' referred to a period of time that didn't fit the established pattern of spring, summer, autumn and winter, but in the past a hot day in winter or a cold spell in summer was just a glitch. Now we don't know what to expect. Our weather in the British Isles has always been changeable, but now it has become so temperamental we don't seem to have seasons any more.

Take this time last year. We were basking in gardens and on beaches in temperatures of over C20. Exactly the same month this year and we are below freezing, lambs being dug out of snowdrifts, drivers stranded in their cars. What's going on?

They say it's the jet stream shifting. Or the earth shifting a couple of degrees on its axis. Or both.  Hot, sunny weather is as likely in October as it is in April, while wintry showers can fall in June. Where I live, in the Peak District of Derbyshire, there was once a famous newspaper headline: 'Snow Stops Play.' It referred to a cricket match in June 1975, which had to be abandoned because of the sudden snowy blizzard. Yet the day before everyone had been sweltering in the heat!

We are going to have to be more adaptable as the dreaded words 'weather permitting' become ever more meaningful. And as writers we soon won't know how to refer to the weather in our writing. Words like 'summer' and 'June' may prove to be shorthand for 'grey, wet and miserable' while 'a sun-drenched November day' could end up being not far off the mark.

Now the wisdom of the old saying seems all the more relevant in this day and age:

'Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not!'

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