british summertime

The Myth Of The Great British Summertime

7 August 2009

Today’s blog doesn’t really have anything to do with music. In fact, I’m slightly ashamed to admit that it’s no more than a rant on what is effectively the lowest common denominator of talking points in this country – the weather.

Whilst on tour in the USA last week (where we were subjected to some pretty varied weather conditions) I found myself explaining to a number of Americans that whilst for them rain is merely “a bit of a bummer”, for us it is practically a way of life. That’s accepted. And so I was somewhat taken aback to arrive home and find that Brits are still banging on about the apparent demise of the (if you ask me, virtually mythological) “Great British Summertime”. 

Every year it’s the same: “What an awful summer we’re having!” Brits cry. “Isn’t it dreadful? One week of sunshine and then nothing but rain and clouds for months on end. Whatever happened to The Great British Summertime?”. People actually sound indignant, as if they’ve been cheated out of the customary eight weeks of blistering heat that they signed up for when they decided to remain in the UK. “I don’t put up with over-priced public transport, abnormally high teenage pregnancy rates and that berk Jonathan Ross only to be subjected to this frankly mediocre weather all throughout July and August!”.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Britain. It’s bloody brilliant here. Our art and culture are second-to-none, our countryside is beautiful, the people are industrious. The fish and chips are mindblowing. We invented Wotsits. I could go on. But the weather… well, the weather is – and has always been – a little bit rubbish. Surely it’s not only me who’s spotted that?

British summers are typically a bit sunny, a bit rainy, a bit cloudy. Non-committal, in other words. Some years deviate from the norm, of course – apparently last summer was awful (not that I noticed) and once in a blue moon we get a summer that breaks records like in 2006 – but when those years are the exception rather than the rule, why does everybody always feel so let down by the consistently mediocre weather?

Sure, if your idea of the perfect summer is the Caribbean, then yeah, I can understand your disappointment; however, if this is the case then I recommend you spend your summer in the Caribbean rather than Dulwich. 

OK. Now I’ve got that out of my system, I’m off to relax on a sun-lounger in the drizzle and shout at today’s copy of the Daily Mail.