For new students arriving in Cambridge this weekend, a number of stereotypes will have been confirmed: that it always rains in Great Britain, and that the British are only really comfortable socially when talking about the weather.
Both are of course perfectly true, but there is a question of degree, and it is raining more today than usual. We were preparing, with some relish, for the worst storm since 1987, when the South East of England lost some millions of venerable trees, but I read instead on the latest updates that ‘hundreds’ of trees are down, and Gatwick Airport is operating a ‘near-normal’ service. Some chap in Dorset has had his car crushed, and a train to Peterborough was delay 40 minutes. In truth 220,000 homes are said to be briefly without power, but roads and railways have not been washed away, and cows are not floating out to sea on the roofs of VW Beetles. It is, all in all, a suitably understated British apocalypse. So far, anyway.
For my part, the house I am staying in (in the South West of the country) lost a tile on the roof. I foolish parked the car under some trees, and looked out this morning expecting to see a branch lying athwart it like in the Richard Scarry books, but it seems, to my mild disappointment, to be fine. When I was at school a spell of ‘bad’ weather (an inch of snow, for example) would keep me off for days on end; but it seems that this time I will be back at work tomorrow, no doubt talking about the weather.
For latest updates and rolling storm news, see here.