Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Barbecue Summer? Fat chance!

A laughing young couple in shorts feature on the cover of today's Sunday Times, above the caption ' all set for a barbecue summer'.

Will jounalists never learn? A few sunny days at the end of April and suddenly they're back in the prediction business, by implication at least. We've been through all this - we live in Britain. It rains here. Quite a bit, in fact. And no amount of newspaper hysteria is going to change the fact.

The Sunday Times in question arrived decidedly damp, the picture ironically spattered with raindrops as the paper-boy picked his way between the puddles. Still, if you're a glass half-full kind of person, you can celebrate the fact that today sees the 102nd anniversary of the invention of the windscreen wiper*, unsurprisingly dreamt up by by a Briton to whom we should all be ceaselessly grateful.

(The wipers of the Tavern's previous horseless carriage, since gone to the great car park in the sky, had a delightfully syncopated beat that was the perfect accompaniment when singing Louis Armstrong's version of 'Mac the Knife' - the radio hadn't worked since 2001 so we had to make our own in-car entertainment - or Lotte Lenya's on intermittent.)

The Barbecue Summer debacle was the result of too much over-simplification and rounding-off; a set of probabilities expressed, through a sort of Chinese whispers (can we call it that any more, or will the EHRC be round?), as a soundbite of certainty. The fuss over the 'unexpected' cold winter shows that the public and media still hadn't learnt their lesson, and it looks like it could happen all over again.

In British weather, the only thing you can be certain of is uncertainty itself.

*This gem comes from 'The Wrong Kind of Snow - How the Weather Made Britain', which carries the best back cover review ever: 'Should be in every loo in the land' - John Julius Norwich.
How middle class is that!


  1. We need rain. It provides our water supply and enables crops to grow in the fields. It helps to clean out the air of much of the pollution. A good many people do not like it too hot and some actually suffer when it goes to near 30c or more. Why the BBC regards a couple of days rain or a few showers at the weekend as a disaster I do not know. Just another distortion to suit the party line.

  2. We Rigbys are south of Watford, we have lived 'south of Watford' for a long time and have got used to putting tomato plants in the garden.

    We should have known better this year, and trusted our 'instincts' instead of the calendar because although there has not been much rain for some time the ground is still wet, and very cold.

    This week our tomato plants have died - because of overnight frosts.

  3. Demetrius; I heartily agree - I loathe barbecues anyway.

    Mrs R; at the risk of embarking on a gardening theme, here at the Tavern we are trying out asparagus - if it can cope with the frosts in Evesham, we decided, it should be tough enough. First crop yesterday - sublime! Why not give it a go?


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