Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Irish Obsession with the Weather

It's changed recently. The weather, that is. Last few weeks it was lovely and sunny and warm. Now it's colder, windy/blustery, and showery.

Obviously, this is a cause for misery. However, there are several upsides to it all the same:

It gives Irish people something to moan about. We love having something to moan about. Ask an Irish person whether they prefer to have good weather or bad and they'll usually say good. Ask them instead however, whether they prefer to talk about good weather or bad, and the answer is invariably bad. "Oh, isn't it terrible/awful/dreadful" is a phrase uttered with hideous delight by many Irish people.

Bad weather not only gives us more to moan about though. It also gives us more to talk about in general. I mean, good weather is pretty consistent. Sunny, warm but not too hot, very little wind, no rain. It is good weather for going to the beach, beer gardens and barbecues. All fine ways to spend the time, yes.

Bad weather on the other hand though, allows for complaining, for discussion of how hard everything is, what a struggle daily existence is, even for those of us who live with all mod cons (imagine what it was like when our ancestors lived in huts!). It can open up discussions on climate change, how to heat houses, mud and the general amount of dirt that wet weather generates, how good it is for the farmers and therefore the rest of us must grin and bear it since we like to eat the farmers' food, how good the weather is for ducks - which I suppose we should also put up with, since we also like to eat ducks, holidays...the list of topics opened up by the weather is endless.

Another key factor of talking about the weather though, good or bad - but particularly bad, is that we Irish can talk about it for hours. It is a safe subject. We can discuss the weather in great depth with people from all walks of life without stepping even close to sport, religion or politics, those subjects of common contention. We can be friendly and warm while keeping people at arm's length.

The complaints about the weather have contributed to the art and literature of the nation. Angela's Ashes would in no way have been so depressing were it set in the Sunny South of France. We like to shiver to remind ourselves how miserable we are as a people. Talking about the weather is as Irish as potatoes.

The weather. For all that we complain about it, it serves us well.

No comments: