That quote from The Simpsons always makes me chuckle. Smartypants Lisa Simpson is a point away from winning a spelling bee; the final word is ‘whether’. Competitors can ask for the word to be put in context in a sentence and the emcee, who doesn’t want Lisa to win, tricks her.
Us English people are, of course, obsessed with the weather. Experts have said this summer has been the coldest for many years – though we hardly needed boffin metereologists to tell us that. We barely know what clothes to put on in the morning: do we need to wrap up against the wind, wear sensible shoes in case it rains or layer up in the event that the sun makes an appearance late in the afternoon (which often happens and I’m boiling when I get in my car after work).
For all this obsession about the weather, we’re actually quite lucky in this country. We may suffer cold, wet summers, but seldom do we experience Mother Nature’s extremes that threaten our lives and properties (the famous hurricane of the late 80s notwithstanding).
Other countries I have lived in do experience weather extremes, but they are far less obsessed by it.
I have long been a fan of Kiwi band Crowded House. I’m sure most of you will know one of their songs, Four Seasons in One Day. Aucklanders will tell you how true this song is; I had the privilege of living in that city and found out that they’re right. Go out for the day and you’ll need a jumper, rain mac and t-shirt to be prepared for all that the weather has to throw at you.
You’ll all know that the weather is upside down on the other side of the world. I was living in Auckland during 2003, when Europe was sweating through a heatwave that took many lives. Not only did I miss that summer, but at the same time New Zealand was experiencing the coldest winter for decades. Auckland houses aren’t equipped for ‘proper’ winters, as generally they’re quite short and mild, so I really appreciated double glazing and central heating during my first winter on my return to the UK.
However on the whole, New Zealand’s weather is temperate, with beautifully clear and crisp winters days and warm summers. Would I return to New Zealand? Try and stop me. Aotearoa stole a piece of my heart.
As anyone who has ever watched an Aussie soap opera, the weather in Australia is always perfect. Is it? Of course, the summer is scorching, but when it rains, it really rains. I once found it much easier to walk home from work barefoot in a rainstorm as my shoes were submerged; it was something to behold.
In the height of summer, the wind burns your skin. I remember seeing smoke from bushfires (a lot are caused by arson, as well as the weather). The upside is you can make weekend plans being 99% certain of decent weather, unlike the Poms.
Would I return to Australia? Yes, if only to visit my brother and friends. Living there is out of the question, but that’s unrelated to the weather; the reason has eight legs. But that’s a whole new blog.