The Great British obsession with the weather reached new heights today. Predicted to be the worst storm since the ill-fated Michael Fish forecast of ’87, we locked our windows and doors, battened down the hatches and settled down for a night and morning of mad howling winds and Armageddon skies with the storm dubbed ‘St Jude‘.
And it was bad. Four people (including a man from my home town) were tragically killed in horrendous accidents, while over 600,000 southern homes were without power today. Less importantly, going anywhere at all proved, as expected, to be a nightmare. Train stations were eerily empty during rush hour, with many people, myself included, opting to work from home rather than risk the great outdoors, littered with obstacles and debris like some kind of computer game.
I’m still morbidly fascinated by our national obsession, or in some cases, hysteria towards the weather. Indeed, going online for updates is an expected exercise on days like today. Just look on Facebook and you’ll be met with maps of imminent zombie apocalypses (NOT GOING TO HAPPEN – SORRY IDIOTS). Have a peek at the endlessly edited Instagram photos of queues, crowds and amusingly placed debris, or pick up some new tedious Twitter hashtags like #breezeageddon (I can’t pretend not to have used this today). And if you don’t, you might as well drop off the social radar. It’s like missing something great on Saturday night TV and not being able to join in colleague conversations over coffee on a Monday morning.
It’s a weird dynamic: this obsession with the undeniably brutal force of nature, and the associated British humour that goes with it. It’s like: Hey, it’s the end of the world and we’re all going to die, so we might as well go rob a bank or have sex with strangers! And then tweet a picture of it.
I’m not for a second pretending that I’m not a part of this distinctly British dark weather/dark comedy scenario. Just pointing out that, on reflection, it’s a bit weird. And yes, I hate everything to do with zombie apocalypses.