Category Archives: The war on weather

I hear the pitter patter

Today I saw the city cloaked. The Shard wore a veil to shyly hide its heights while the Gherkin shrugged its shroud about its hunched shoulders in mourning for the Summer passed now beneath the ground. Ben tolled away, concealed as usual, but his mask was sheathed from the rest of us, the spires shooting blindly towards oblivion. Those circling the eye graduated briefly to those hidden heavens, only to return to earth, triumphant or disappointed, depending on the make of them.

Oh wait.

After complaining to you endlessly about first the cold and then the heat, I want to do anything but complain about the sudden onset of constant rain and creeping mist in London.

Therefore I offer up to you instead my equal-top-3-fave-poem EVA…

HONE TUWHARE – RAIN

I can hear you
making small holes
in the silence
rain

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops

But if I
should not hear
smell or feel or see
you

you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me
rain.

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After 6 months of darkness eating at the already grumbling souls of all Londoners, there came a day when we emerged from the Underground squinting and grimacing with pain at the bright hotness in the sky. For at least an hour the entire city stood still, looking up and wondering if we were about to be obliterated by a very slowly-approaching meteor.

The Eye stopped spinning, Big Ben paused mid-clang, and Queen Lizzie took a desolate gulp of gin and finally abdicated to Charles. But then, just as the last hopes of the people were slipping out to sea with the filthy Thames, one brave soul shouted above the utter silence of the fearful millions: ‘It’s the sun!’

The sigh was audible as mothers unclutched their children and shop owners doubled the price of sunglasses. Starbucks realised Christmas was finally over and swapped Eggnog Latte for Frappes, all heating systems clanged to a halt and the air con was set to ‘Dubai‘. Schoolboys who’d hit puberty over the Winter suddenly blushed collectively as they really appreciated the un-scarved bosom for the first time.

The commuter set threw off their business casuals and flocked in their pasty nudity to the royal parks, flashing their fluorescent pins and crying aloud ‘GET IN ME, vitamin D!’ Of course 5 minutes later the hail set in and the working classes shuffled back to their now-icy cubicles covered in scratches and muttering about throwing it all in to be a DJ in Ibiza.

Now the people of London are paralysed, staring into cupboards for hours a day deciding whether to tempt fate by leaving the house without a jacket. Winter scarf or Summer scarf? No scarf?! Sandals will bring rain, dresses wind, shoulderless t-shirts snow, and jumpers humid heat. Can I wear a raincoat AND sunglasses?

Tights and cardis are too hot but lower legs and upper arms are not yet safe for work, and so Boots does a roaring trade in buffers and moisturisers and the treadmills at the gym are all taken. Water bills rise dramatically as bathers frantically scrub at their calloused feet, and the optimistic limp along with jandals cutting into the Winter-softened space between their toes.

The city has now segregated into several castes – those who have just returned from an early Summer island holiday (the show-off browns), those who fake it til they make it in death-machines or in a bottle (the streaky yellows), those who have spent every lunch time with their tights rolled down and midriffs bared (the painful pinks), and those who still fear the skyballofskincancer (the alabaster ghosts). As these sects are not allowed by law to mingle, you will see everywhere The Comparison of Forearms, this being the main method of determining social class.

Perhaps most noticeable is the riot of colour and noise. Suddenly the silent streets are teeming with a plague of children, laughing and playing and blatantly flouting the signage present on every council estate: ‘No Ball Games Allowed’. Joining the cacophony are the birds, flocking like biblical locusts to the sudden greenery of the cemetery nearby.

Locals stand on streetcorners confused, as the bare black trees that seemed to loom out of the graveyard like corpses themselves have sprouted never-imagined pink and white blossoms. Google Maps crashes every 10 minutes as Londoners lost in their own neighbourhoods frantically press the ‘locate me’ button.

Hayfever sufferers complain about the plane trees, travellers complain about school holidays, locals complain about tourists, networks complain about tv ratings, commuters complain about the cattle-run of the Central Line, and maybe you’ll complain that I haven’t written a blog in a while.

Well I don’t care – I saw the sun!

Undies, undies, undies, togs!

Undies, undies, undies… togs!

Any kiwi knows what the code above means, and any in London have muttered it beneath their hot humid breath this weekend. For those not in the know, let me let you in on the in joke…

Apparently us ANZACs are the only ones who think it’s bizarre to see bikinis without beaches and bared boobs face down on picnic blankets rather than towels.

But what can I say, the Brits obviously enjoy getting their kit off and their tan on without fear of sand in sore places, screeching seagulls dive-bombing, floaters in the pool, or creepy-swimmy ocean-dwellers.

And I don’t think anyone’s really complaining about all the skin on show…

How to complain about Summer

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice...

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…

I’ve finally realised after a full turn of the heavens that it is not an anomoly – London has no concept of those lesser seasons that I love – the beautiful and wistful Autumn, the hopeful and uplifting Spring.

It’s just: Winter… KABLAMMY! Summer… KABLAMMY! Repeat ad nauseum.

After six months of darkness, during which there was not a single temp in double digits, there was a brief flirtation with Spring during which Londonites momentarily put away their poised razor blades and bathed in hope. After that two days in March it was all over again, though, and in late May I was frantically rewriting my suggested packing list to my mother to include thermals, bedsocks, and layers, Layers, LAYERS!

Now though, the weather gods have shown themselves to be lazy trollops devoid of tact or nuance or empathy to man. Every morning at work is a litany of how horrendous and squelchy and breathless our commutes have become, and how difficult it is to dress appropriately for the office while also waylaying sweat stains and mental breakdowns.

But then comes the same mantra time after time, seemingly obligatory lest the trollopy gods bear down on us with ash clouds and summer snow and apocalyptic flooding… “but we can’t complain about the sunshine!!”

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Sunday…

The overloaded double decker crawled along, broiling its passengers to the same shade of puce as its iconic exterior. I stood in the aisle, beaded sweat rolling down bared arms, it’s sluggish path stopped only by the skin of strangers, surrounding on six sides.

The collaborative glare of 80 occupants fell on those who sat bewilderingly oblivious beside closed windows. It was to no avail anyway – nothing moved through the gaps as we sat in stilted, enraged traffic, glutted by the excessive desire of all these millions to ‘get to the park!’

Outside, the caterwauling sirens added a 5th sense to the cloying, clogging, choking air surrounding and hounding me, which I could already see, taste, smell, and feel.

Sunglasses slid south and stayed there – the interminable game of removing, wiping, prodding back up was too much effort and I gave in to the dampness. It was everywhere. In unladylike places, as well as particularly ladylike places. Hands slurped against the steadying pole, teaming with the deposits of other sweaty palms, and breeding with previous bodily deposits to create brand new and terrifying life forms in liquid miniature.

Once escaped, I looked up at the enlarged and pale as pale blue vault and felt hopeless. Not a wisp of cirrus or a stratus of protection from the onslaught dared to creep across the dome, lorded over by a cruel hot demon. A plane arched its back across the sun’s flight path and I half-expected it to burst into vampiric flames as the tiny windows failed to absorb the enormous light. At the very least the pilots must surely be blinded and dip the plane along with their shuttered eyes towards the welcoming other blue below.

Perhaps I should have welcomed the idea of going underground, into the cool dark cavern of my imagination. But I approached the gaping mouth with the trepidation of one who has known that torture before. A stray piece of curly black weave lay limply on the escalator and I wondered if an overheated frontal cortex had made its owner so enraged by commuters standing on the left that they had literally torn their hair out.

I wanted to literally tear my clothes off, but only if followed immediately by a waiting body of water. One cool, and clear, and calm, and deep. One free of tourists and hipsters, occupied only by lovers and giggling children and happy dogs. I would be happy just to feel my eyes sting from the salty spray of the wide inviting ocean, rather than the ocean of salty sweat rolling from brow to squinting, seared retinas.

Perhaps I am thinking of heaven, or perhaps of home. Perhaps home is a type of heaven – a castle in the Long White Cloud, moated by a sea salted with the tears of the old gods, weeping as they gave up to us the beautiful seasons. I pray to Autumn. I devote myself to Spring. I defy the fallen Winter.

And I beg for mercy from the cruel Summer.