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The British Seasons – 4 Shades of Grey

BBC Weather for 30th Nov 2005

“Expect showers of grey, with a grey front bringing widespread panic and patches of grey throughout.”

If there’s one thing Britain doesn’t have a short supply of, it’s weather. We have so much weather here that people forge entire relationships based purely on discuss the plethora of said weather that our climate has bestowed upon us. Each day the news and weather teams of our media cry “BRITAIN’S GOT WEATHER SHOCKER!” as weather unfolds itself across the land, being the biggest, baddest weather since the dawn of time, well since records began. We like it that records began, it gives our weather more gravitas.

All this weather can seem rather confusing to the untrained eye and so we Brits have neatly tidied it into four easy-to-manage seasons. Unfortunately these seasons all appear to be a varying shade of grey, with imperceptible differences to the visiting foreign, so how do you know which season you’re in? Here’s my handy guide:

Grey With a Hint of Optimism
This is the season when sheep start dropping lambs all over the place and chicks erupt from eggshells, making the countryside look terribly untidy. It is the season when Britain begins to smell a gap in the sleet and gets a little giddy at the prospect of some sunshine and of being able to wear less than 14 inches of woollens just to crawl out from under 14 duvets in the morning.

Depression begins to lift as the layers do and people start to realise that what they’ve been dating for the past 3 months has in fact been a sofa and not someone muffled by too many sweaters. They give it a few weeks before breaking it off though, after all, they’ve shared some good times and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t kick off when you drop Maltesers down their back.

Momentary relief is felt across the country as unrelenting snow gives way to unrelenting rain, which threatens to wash away the newly sprouting flower buds that signify Grey With a Hint of Optimism is in the air.

Expect a hosepipe ban.

Light Grey
The favourite season of all British residents. Light Grey is the season that holds the least risk of frostbite and offers the potential for playing a fun game of E-coli roulette with a chicken drumstick, part thawed out over a rusty grill in someone’s back garden, while making futile attempts to get drunk on Pimms.

The first day of Light Grey is marked by the first sighting of that magnificent and proud creature, the topless chav. No sooner has the temperature soared to a whopping 12 degrees, the scrawny male of the chav species will strut about the streets with his polo shirt trailing cockily from his back pocket, flaunting his milky flesh to attract a mate; the muffin-top chav. The female of the species reserves the site of her chest for behind a bike shed, but uses a crop top to flaunt her ample muffin-top in order to attract her bike thieving, chain smoking mate.

Along with the first topless chav sighting, the arrival of Light Grey can be heard all across the land as hayfever grips the mucus membranes of the nation in one collective moany sneeze. Ah, the dulcet tones of nature.

During Light Grey, there will be a brief break in the clouds and drizzle just long enough for everyone cram onto the same beach or beer garden in a race to get sunburn strap marks, and then sweat on each other on modes of public transport that have their heating stuck on ‘Satan’s furnace’.

We spent months dreaming of it being hot, we’ve been willing it to be hot, begging for more hot. It’s hot. We don’t like it.

Expect Christmas adverts and a one-day flying ant invasion.

Grey With a Hint of Brown
No sooner has everyone had their one day of sunburn and recovered from their brush with raw-on-the-inside-fossilised-on-the-outside chicken drumsticks, than we’re on to more rain and grey skies, this time accompanied by the desperate denial of the nation that one day of sun is really all we’re getting (again), punctuated with brown.

Some might argue that this is the most beautiful of the seasons, but that’s because they have a penchant for all things in various shades of brown; mud, sticks, geography teacher’s socks etc. Amid the constant torrential rain, bullying winds whip the briefly picturesque trees and pluck their suicidal brown leaves, casting them to the ground where they putrefy into morbid brown slime, causing hilarious pratfalls for careless pedestrians.

Weather enthusiasts stroll about in these gusts of cold air, declaring them to be particularly bracing compared to the gusts of air at any other time of year. It’s a little known fact that “bracing” is an old English word, meaning “totally ruins your hair style and exposes your knickers to passing buses”. It is during such “bracing” winds that the people of Britain like to take part in the traditional game of umbrella wrestling, where the winner is the person who can flip their umbrella inside-out the most times, while collecting bonus points for every eye poked.

Expect to tread in a lot of dog eggs masquerading as dead leaves.

Dark Grey
Dark Grey is the most ominous and dramatic of all the seasons, much like a teenage emo. Notable for its predictably inclement bursts of meteorological foulness, resulting in people all across the land announcing to each other how especially surprised they by each one. Again.

Just last year we had torrential rain, floods, low temperatures and snow, yet every year the country gets hit sidelong by another devastatingly predictable bout of exactly the same thing, which throws the general public into mass hysteria and a frenzy of social media updates.

No sooner has some Dark Grey weather occurred than the country grinds to an unceremonious halt. Schools and offices across this great nation fall silent with icy abandonment, due to no-one being able to survive out of doors in the treacherous 1.5 inches of snow, well, not in suede loafers.

Those who are brave enough to face the deathly grips of 2 degree centigrade do so only in order to buy life preserving essentials to see them through the weekend; 27 loaves of bread, 45 litres of milk, cat food and a onesie. They don’t even own a cat.

Every time a train line falls prey to some soggy leaves, or a major road grinds to an icy halt, comparisons with Russia and Canada’s resilience in the face of 60 foot snowdrifts get bandied about the place, accompanied by feelings of deep inadequacy that we’re just not Canadian and Russian enough, for which we blame Labour/the Tories/whoever happens to be holding the governmental reins.

During the months of Dark Grey, the standard greeting of “hello” is replaced with a hearty “BRRR” and providing each other with the shocking news that it is cold. It’s a commonly held belief that animals hibernate in winter to conserve energy, when in fact it’s to avoid being told it’s cold every 13.5 seconds.

Expect to be told it’s cold.

So there you have it, four distinctly grey seasons, each with its own uniquely grey charm and packed with a gallimaufry of grey weather. We may moan about the amount of grey, we may spend a small fortune visiting places in the world that boast seasons of sunshine and blue skies, but we wouldn’t be without our four shades of British grey. Well, what else would we have to talk about?

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About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

17 responses »

  1. Perfect timing, the heavens just opened and my office is discussing the weather. Roll on 5.30.

    Reply
  2. Hilarious! Loved this piece. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the subtleties of British weather. But now that my daughter lives there, with each week’s phone call comes a description (peppered with many expletives) about the state of your weather. And yes, sad to say, we Canadians do laugh at the British inability to cope with snow and ice… an inch on the train tracks? Really? Try feet and we’ll talk…Although, and this is our Southern Ontario dirty little secret, we don’t get nearly the amount of snow that the northern plains states get. And all those horrible snow dumps you’ve heard of this winter? Not here…

    Reply
    • As a Canadian, you are like a superhuman to us Brits, with your snow tyres built into your feet and the laser beams that you shoot from your eyes to melt the wall of snow that greets you as you open the door.

      Actually, we get the same picture of a road carved through a giant snow drift every year and amaze at the Canadian resolve. No-one has the heart to break it to Facebook that it’s actual from Japan.

      Reply
  3. charmedbylove

    The Four Shades of Grey is a good way to start a conversation, anytime!

    Reply
  4. Bless. As an Australian it’s always lovely to hear on the news about the ‘shocking heat way’ that the English are facing – only to find out its been over 25 degrees for more than 3 days in a row.

    Reply
  5. Stop making me laugh out loud. People are staring.

    Reply
  6. Perfect. I expect to see you on the local Weather Channel, using your gallimaufry of epithets to abuse the masses.

    Reply
  7. Wonderful. Where i am last week in the States, 4 to 8 inches of snow was predicted for Wednesday. Nothing came. The meteorologists regrouped and predicted 2 to 4 for Thursday. Nothing came. But, the weather people said, the storm has moved off, and Friday will be mild and sunny. We got 3 inches. It is all too wonderful.

    Reply
    • We had a famous incident where a highly trusted weather man told the country we were expecting pleasant weather and the reports of storms were absolutely untrue. Worst storms since records began (we really do love those records), including several deaths and widespread damage to national heritage sites. Talk about an own goal.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Fish

      Reply
  8. Pingback: The Great British Weather - Geek Ergo Sum

  9. Pingback: The Great British Weather | Geek Ergo Sum

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