Monday, March 20, 2006

Everybody Talks – Nobody Does

Monstra mihi pecuniam

Probably the most enduring of all quotations regarding what should be nothing more or less than a meteorological phenomenon is: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Charles D. Warner

In England this is invariably true. English people talk incessantly about the weather – mostly incorrectly. In England there is no weather really. What there is is climate. Despite the fact that we are inundated with statistics “proving” that we are at the mercy of global warming or the imminent (and humongously disastrous) shut-down of the Gulf Stream, the average Briton can barely remember a time when the weather was more “average” and boringly predictable. It was only last autumn when the various “forecasters” were queuing up to predict the worst winter in living memory. Conveniently, they no longer seem to be available for interview.

What is slightly worrying is the noticeable variation in climate and the consequent lack of rainfall. Statistically it has been dry. Very dry. Three of the largest water companies in Southern England announced their plans to deal with this dry interlude only this week. It's hosepipe ban time. “The companies are imposing the restrictions after a prolonged period of below-average rainfall which has left groundwater sources depleted,” informs the Telegraph. This is the next “big thing”. There will be no hoses for washing your car or watering your plants! You have been warned.

Strangely enough I remember fondly the last great drought. It was 1976. A blazing summer with high pressure ensconced over the North Sea from May until October, effectively blocking any weather systems from reaching us. I remember it so well because I was the idiot who laid new turf in my front garden in late April. Turned an interesting shade of off-white before it died completely about mid-July – despite the fact that I spent most of the summer lugging bath water (used) out front in a vain effort to save it. Waste of time – either we didn't take enough baths or there was just not enough water. For the record that was, now, 30 years ago.

Having failed miserably to convince us that their will be ice-bergs in the Thames this year, the media (particularly the newspapers - who have a lot of column inches to fill every day) have wound themselves up for one of their favourite “tizzies” – predicting impending doom.

Our friends at the Telegraph blithely announce that:

“The Environment Agency and eight South East water companies will unveil a website - - which advises people how they can conserve water in the face of shortages.

The new website encourages people to take simple steps such as repairing leaking taps and turning off the tap while brushing their teeth to cut the amount of water they use.”

This is really interesting stuff! You have to turn the water off when you are brushing your teeth. You have to put a brick or two in your toilet. No, no, stop laughing! A building brick or two placed in the cistern will displace an equivalent amount of water and save a bundle. Apparently. Remember your Archimedes? Shower instead of bathe. Saves a lot of water. Shower with a friend – no, sorry, I made that one up – but you get the idea.

If Britain should run out of water – then I might have to agree that there is something seriously amiss. After all, this is the home of wet, drizzly, damp, mingy, crappy weather. Honest. Always has been. I'm sure that's why the Romans left. Just too damn cold and wet. And, no-one had invented pizza yet either.

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