Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, London /

Here, when you don’t know what to talk about, you just talk about the weather. You simply can’t get wrong if you stick to this rule. If there is an awkward silence, all you have to do is to say something like “terrible weather, isn’t it?” and you are sure that the conversation will pick up. Guaranteed.
 
But be prepared: talking about the weather can happen anywhere, even in the most unexpected places. At work, I went to the loo the other day and the lady who was washing her hands next to me started a passionate conversation about how cold the weather had been over half term. I ended up having to pretend that I had an urgent meeting otherwise we would probably have spent the whole afternoon chatting away and we would still be there. I kid you not. That’s how intense the whole exchange was.

I am told that such conversations can happen at any time of the day as well. A friend of mine discussed the weather with her boyfriend as she arrived (very) late at home -she was having an affair. It probably prevented a row. Or she used it as an excuse to defuse the situation. It worked. Apparently, they are still together, and still discussing the weather from time to time. He doesn’t seem to mind. I couldn’t help thinking that it was the British version of The Baker’s Wife: when the baker’s wife comes back after an affair with a handsome shepherd, he doesn’t make a scene, he doesn’t shout at her. instead, he is angry at the cat (unconceivable in the UK, right?). Over here, they can’t be angry at the cat, instead they talk about the weather. I can’t resist it, here is the movie. Go to 2:03:00 if you want to see the last scene. Priceless. A moment of anthology (in France, that is).

 
But why are the Brits obsessed by the weather? London’s weather is broadly similar to Paris. Both cities have a similar number of rainy days every year. To be precise, Paris has 25 and London 29 according to my research. Not that big a difference.
 
My theory is that the weather represents a danger or a blessing from above, the idea being that such fortunes or misfortunes fall from celestial heights. There is a joke in France that our ancestors, the Gauls, were only scared of one thing: that the sky might fall on their heads. Maybe this obsession with the weather is just stemming from the same fear.
 
In any event, right now London is simply gorgeous under the sun. The white stucco fronted houses are glowing and it sometimes feels like nothing has changed for the last 150 years. I find it reassuring, peaceful even. I have to admit it: here is nothing like a ray of sunshine in London. 
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • This is so true! And you know even when they leave England they still obsess about the weather back home…and how bad it is.

  • From watching old movies, my impression of the weather in London is that it is always rainy or foggy! I think weather holds such fascination because it is the one thing we as humans can’t control! “)

  • What a fun post! I have not yet been to Great Britain… unless you consider hanging at Heathrow waiting for your connecting flight to be a visit. 🙂 I will definitely keep in mind that the weather is a good way to spark up a conversation. I think it’s a last resort here because it is considered a boring topic, but that is probably just a cover up for the fact that we are still equally obsessed with the weather. 🙂

  • Alternatively, it might be because it’s one of the few unifying factors that isn’t doom and gloom. Death and taxes are eternal, and everyone experiences them; but so is the weather. Everyone experiences it, even if it’s just about how much light or sound was coming in from outside.

    • That’s true! Talking about the weather is universal…