Home African Caribbean The British Weather – Has Summer Passed Us By This Year?

The British Weather – Has Summer Passed Us By This Year?

by Tony Kelly
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For this article I am writing about the current British weather as never in a million years did I ever think that my focus would be on such a topic. That is so ironic to say the least but it has got to the stage where it is making the national news nearly every day.

On returning to live in England in 1979 I clearly remember that the small talk/talking point on meeting anyone and breaking the ice so to speak was the British weather and that still remains the case. At first, I found it a rather strange topic for starting any conversation but soon got used to it as sometimes one would have all four seasons in a day!!! Coming from the warmth of the Caribbean to the damp and cold weather in Britain was indeed a tall order and a culture shock in many ways. Speaking to some of my relatives and others my understanding is that it was much worse in the 50’s and 60’s when the smog from the chimneys filled the atmosphere and one could barely see more than a few feet whilst outside. It was dismal, grey and miserable and understandably many people from the Caribbean pined for their homeland.

Even in the late seventies when by then there were far less chimneys and coal fires, it still meant not knowing on occasions how to dress on leaving the house to face the elements of Mother Nature. It is something that one can never get used to even after forty-five years of living here. Then add to that, snow, sleet, hail, dense fog, mist, frost and persistent rainfall and I am sure that anyone gets the picture. It is now the summer season in Britain when we will soon reach 21st June, the longest day of the year, known as the summer solstice as the path of the sun in the sky is farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere. One would expect the temperatures to reflect that but it has never been this cold in living memory; thus, needing the warmth of gas central heating, gas fires, log fires or electric heaters to take the chill off homes especially during the evening, has been the norm recently. So, where is the summer in Britain this year? Even the gardens are crying out for some sunshine, less rain and cold weather so that the plants can thrive. British summer gardens are indeed the envy of the world and tourists are known to travel from far away to see their beauty and splendour.

Casting my mind back to last year this time we had a friend of mine from Jamaica who I went to primary and high school with, visiting us and for his entire stay it was a heatwave. We used to jokingly say that he brought the good Jamaican sunshine with him as Britain basked in temperatures which were well above average. I cannot recall a single day then being overcast, dull, gloomy, misty, wet/rainy and now that has been the case so far this summer. Even some of the usual vegetable plants refuse to germinate because of the cold and damp weather conditions. I again have to ask the all-important question, where indeed has our summer gone so far this year?

In Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion on the syllabus for my GCE Ordinary Level English Literature, which was made into the film My Fair Lady, the Covent Garden flower girl Eliza Doolittle was instructed to only talk about two things at the aristocratic/high society ball, the weather and her health. These two traits still remain part of British culture but not everyone chooses to engage, especially in the latter. I remain surprised that the British weather is my focus but it is rather depressing since the start of June.

I hope July and August will be different with much warmer temperatures as I like to also top-up melanin levels with my darker skin by walking in the sun’s rays as often as possible. Some darker skinned people choose to take vitamin D tablets especially during the winter months here in Britain as with the lack of sunlight they are more prone to vitamin D deficiency. The importance of this vitamin for the immune system is crucial to one’s health and well-being. However, since I am not medically qualified my advice would be to check your situation if you fit in that category with your GP.

There was a ditty that we learnt in primary school which was ‘Rain, rain go away, come again another day’ so really hoping that it does go away soon and the temperatures start rising as we have had more than enough of this gloomy weather for the longest while. The school summer holidays start in July and the children need to be able to enjoy their freedom outside and not be cooped up indoors or having to wear layers of clothes to keep warm whilst outside.

To this day I still find it strange that places in Europe such as Spain, Portugal, France and Greece to name a few countries are only a few hours away by plane and yet their months of continuous sunshine as part of the Mediterranean are much better than what Britain has to offer. Having checked the long-range weather forecast, apparently, we should expect a heatwave from the 29th June so one can only hope that is accurate. Come on sun, burst through the clouds as the warmer weather will also improve our mood and mental health.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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