Our darling daughter is off to South Africa in the near future, Unite and Willie Walsh willing. And not for the obvious reason — to watch the World Cup — but for the noble motive of volunteer teaching. That and having an adventure on another continent, making new friends, whale watching off the Cape, seeing the sunrise from Table Top Mountain, weekends on safari — you get the picture.
Taking a fatherly interest, I’ve pinned one of those Windows 7 weather gadgets to my desktop so I can see what Mbaba Mwana Waresa is up to in SA and compare it with the surprises that Mug Ruith has up his sleeve here in sunny Stockport. And that’s where the puzzlement sets in.
Here we’re into June and supposedly the balmy days of summer, while South Africa is in the depths of winter and yet the temperatures here and there have stayed roughly the same. Well mostly. The graph line in Cape Town has remained steady, but here it has been up and down like a backbench MP at PMQs. Admittedly, the rainbow nation has had a few showers, but then we’ve hardly been short of the wet stuff in SK6.
I understand the meteorological basics about what affects weather conditions — lines of latitude, proximity to land and sea masses, global wind patterns etc — but it all seems much more predictable in Cape Town than the Cheshire and unseemingly warm for winter.
The problem is that in the UK we have ‘weather’ while the rest of the world has ‘climate’.
Weather means you can be in puddles one minute and sweltering the next. It means that by the time you’ve changed into t-shirt and shorts to enjoy the sun and blue sky in the garden, it will have clouded over and you have to add a fleece to the ensemble to ward off a chill. It means that it will rain enough to avoid a drought, except it all arrives in the wrong place and the Daily Mail is screaming “hosepipe ban the next week.”
Climate means you can get dressed in the morning without having to look out of the curtains first. It means you can buy stuff for a BBQ in the morning without having to put it in the freezer at teatime and order a pizza instead. It means you can travel light on holiday because you don’t need to pack an overcoat, wellingtons and cagoule just in case.
Me and Mrs P have a dream that we might one day live somewhere that has a ‘climate’. Meanwhile we’re debating whether to risk a BA strike to join our daughter in SA at the end of her ten week stint to make the most of theirs.
UPDATE: As if to prove my point, I had chicken marinading and burgers and sausage piled high for the BBQ tonight, then the skies darkened and the heavens opened. So I ended up cooking under a £7.99 pergola thingy from Asda,