If the English are preoccupied with the weather, the inhabitants of small villages are nothing short of obsessed. It is barely 11am, and already I have had at least fifteen conversations on the subject. Comments range from a rather apathetic 'not very nice again' to an impassioned 'When will this rain ever stop?' But of course although the rain will - eventually stop, the weather conversations won't. And the amount of potential for comment is truly astonishing. Okay, our village does tend to get cut off by floodwater when the nearby river gives up the battle to contain the deluge. And that, I suppose is a viable topic of conversation - but there are so many others. There's the garden, obviously - which plants are flourishing and which drowning, and what kind of insects are thriving or not. There's the drains blocked, flooding -or not, as the case may be. Roofs are another big cause for concern - and the ones that allow rain to permeate them a particularly fascinating subject for lengthy discussion. Driving in the driving rain - that's another biggie, and of course our health. Rainy weather can cause every ailment known to man, apparently, from cough that inevitably goes onto one's chest, earache, and conjuctivitis, to aching bones, skin rashes and - most bizarrely, haemorrhoids.
But the most interesting part about this predisposition for discussing the weather is how infectious it is. I find myself greeting guests in the morning with the words 'Not a very nice one,' or, more positively, 'you've brought the weather with you!' As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I wish fervently that I could have thought of a more original greeting, but strangely people do seem to respond with alacrity to weather laden comments. 'No,' they agree, 'but the forecast is promising', or 'Yes indeed, and it looks set for the day.' Having commenced our discourse in such a lively manner we can then progress to more indepth conversation such as what they want for breakfast.
But the truth, I suspect, is that we all secretly enjoy it. Because the weather is a great leveller. It's something we all have in common, we all care about it, and it's something we can all share, whatever our age and backgrounds. Talking of which, looks like its brightening up..