Wednesday, 4 January 2017
This sceptred isle benefits from a most favourable aspect, a strategic bastion against travails, set at the confluence of five mighty air masses (six, if you count the prodigal Returning Polar Maritime) which, as if to confound our already over-stimulated senses, bring weather quixotic enough to baffle the most powerful computers on the planet. At the same latitude as Canada, permafrost and ice storms are unknown. When the European interior is blanketed in snow for months the mild waters of the Gulf Stream gyre keep us, if not cosy, mostly above freezing. Apart from our traffic management we can function all year round with hardly any adjustment necessary in our routines.
Yeah, for sure, on the two days of snow we go a bit doo-lally, but it’s all over and done with quite soon. And on the plus side we can manufacture a weather record from practically every day’s observations. Somewhere in the UK it will be the coldest/hottest/wettest Wednesday 4th January since... well, since the last one. But it’s not completely batshit crazy; every year, pretty much, we get four seasons. Admittedly, not necessarily in the exact same order, but there nonetheless, recognisable, familiar and somewhat comforting. Such a shame that the enviro-mentals have to make such a song and dance about every little cold snap, every little heat wave.
A shift of fifty miles in the expected location of a depression centre and a city is saved from deluge, while another gets heatstroke. Before we created the great indoors, where everybody lives in splendid isolation from nature, only a true Brit could stoically handle the sheer level of phlegm that was needed to survive here. Talk about natural bulwarks. But then, along came Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy with his newly minted notion of ‘forecasts’ and the job of weather-guesser was created. All you have to do in Britain for your forecast to come true is wait... it may be some time but it will come true in the end and everybody will have forgotten what you predicted anyway.
A week ago, some pundits were practically forecasting a new ice age, while others were going for the ‘hottest January on record’. By Sunday evening it was ‘button up for three nights of extreme sub-zero assault’. Sure enough Tuesday dawned frosty, but not as cold as foretold. The BBC was by then forecasting a five degree Tuesday night with similar throughout the week, or what I like to call ‘same as every year’. So here we are today with the weekend’s forecast proved wrong, yet the rhetoric suggesting it is all on track. Incidentally, the best way to start a new day’s outlook is to briefly summarise the current situation, preceded by the words ‘as forecast’.
It is sheer folly to pretend to see more than 48 hours ahead; nobody is even fully confident about what will happen tomorrow. And as it is with British weather, so it is with British politics; woe betide the chancers who pretend to have knowledge that nobody possesses. Forecasting the departure of Sir Ivan Rogers from the Brexit negotiations may not have required too much prescience – especially in hindsight – but with his passing we should also discard much of the frost and gloom he was expecting. It was, after all, just guesswork.
A bit of a squall... nothing more.
We have a brief winter to get through and then it will be spring and the prospect of invoking Article 50 lies ahead. As forecast it’s been a messy old time, especially for all the meddlers and naysayers and doom-mongers, but the days will get longer and warmer, no matter what the alarmists will tell us and I predict a long, glorious frequently hilarious political summer ahead!