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Monday / April 15.
HomemitwocentsWeather… or Not it’s Important

Weather… or Not it’s Important

It took a million dollar survey to confirm what we all know – the weather is an all-consuming topic of conversation, no matter where we are in the world. And Australia wins, hands down.

A recent survey by a leading commercial search engine came up with incisive evidence that the most popular topic discussed between mouthfuls of breakfast muesli, around the office water cooler
and while sipping the brunch-time \skinny mocca, latte, piccolo (whatever) is “the weather”.

No shocks there really for a survey that cost close to a million dollars. I could have done it for half the price at my local café on any given Saturday morning. Almost 100 per cent of conversations will at some time make reference to the current state of cloud, temperature, humidity and/or precipitation.

I decided to test the results with friends and complete strangers the following week. The survey was 99 per cent accurate (one guy in my sample group became the ‘exception proving the rule’ – he simply asked, did I want a copy of a publication called The Big Issue. When I told him I thought the weather was the Big Issue he turned on his heel and promptly accosted the next passer-by without so much as a ‘by your leave’).

Growing up in Wagga Wagga, I dreaded the winter frosts and trips to visit the grandparents in the Snowy Mountain…

Anyhow, it seems the weather consumes us. How many times have you had a “nice day today” from total strangers or a “looks like rain” from mothers clutching paisley umbrellas with three kids in tow all dressed in bright yellow plastic outfits.

From cow cockies, dusted with red dust, dripping in sweat and showered in blowflies from their Akubra headpiece to the soles of their R M Williams boot, its more likely to be “bit warm this morning – must be 115 (most farmers still converse in Fahrenheit) in the water bag”, understating the temperature by several syllables.

Weather-driving Behaviour

Weather surrounds our every outdoor moment and forces us indoors to turn on the air-conditioner, the ceiling fan or the heater. It drives our behaviour and affects our mood and even our health.

November Down Under means heat, hats, bare flesh and maybe a few blowflies. Slip, slop, slap and wrap-arounds to keep the ocular ultra violet exposure down.

My last column was delivered from the Punjab – the Pakistani Punjab – where the weather was turning through monsoon heat and humidity toward a mild and comfortable winter.

My next destination was to the northern sensibilities of England. Manchester to start with, then a little further south in the villages of East Anglia.

The climate and weather in those northern parts rarely create the phrase “heat rash”.

The locals at Heathrow were only too pleased to let me know what a glorious summer they had endured (big win in the Ashes for the Poms), and also that the weather was superb…

“You should have been here yesterday – 29 (yes, centigrade!!) and glorious sunshine… “What, rather than 14, showery and blustery I’m getting now?”

The folks in England were philosophical about the overnight transition from high summer to middling winter.

But I had arrived via central Asia on the back of a Sydney spring heatwave. I had packed two warmish tops, one sleeveless, the other perfect for a Sydney Harbour cruise in October. They were both almost useless against the biting British nip, even when worn simultaneously. The skies scudded, a small hurricane blew through. My body didn’t like this at all. I suffer from a common but little publicised illness known as “seasonal climate adjustment syndrome”. Nausea and a degree of depression can set in. Appetite declines and increases, depending on desire for ‘comfort foods’.

I kid you not, this is a genuine health concern. Growing up in Wagga Wagga, I dreaded the winter frosts and trips to visit the grandparents in the Snowy Mountain towns of Adelong and Tumbarumba. Give me a century in Fahrenheit and a hot dry wind anytime.

High summer is just around the corner. I have returned to a proper climate, a climate next to the temperate coastal breezes where “we are having some weather” means it’s another sun filled day where it’s preferable to endure the dangers of ultra violet exposure than enduring frostbite – to have some weather where the t-shirt and shorts are never packed away.

England is a nice place to visit but it desperately needs our weather.