Friday 24 March 2006

A conversational weather forecast

I am no mute
It is said that the English talk a lot about the weather; I see no issue with that, we always find ways of making conversation.
Talking about the weather provides a common interest subject to launch a long conversation from, if the respondent to the initial comment is affable, amiable and disposed to the cantankerous raconteur that sometimes bedevils me.
I admit, I can make conversation about almost anything, you cannot travel on a train for nigh on 4 hours with the person sitting around you and you just being dumb all the time, when your lives could have been enriched no end by a simple conversation.
Years ago, being that precocious, if that is applicable adults yielded a most uncanny experience.
Drink to memories of linked history
A heterosexual Caucasian couple sat opposite me on the train from London Euston to Glasgow and I was to get off at Lancaster.
It transpired that she, the lady took a bottle of coca cola out of her bag and I commented about the fact that drinks on the train cost a fortune that the services company was given to unfair profiteering.
Well, it transpired that the couple lived in Ipswich, just when I was dying there – I insist, there is no way anyone can live in Ipswich – I died in Ipswich for 2 years.
They were getting off at Lancaster and going to Holton a village just north of Brook House another village on the outskirts of Lancaster city.
When I said, my parents were Nigerian; she said she was born in Nigeria, in fact she was born in Jos, in the then Benue-Plateau State – unfortunately, it now appears every fenced piece of land in Nigeria is now a state.
Well, we lived in Jos for 4 years in the early 70s, and being the same age, it transpired that we lived so close to each other and we went to the same primary school – Corona School, Shamrock House.
My cranial archive
My memory at times serves me too well as it also reveals information that many would have thought completely forgotten. I then remembered and surmised what her maiden name would be – correct!
Then, I remembered in late 1974 when I asked her father who is now of blessed memory one morning whilst walking to the bus stop on the way to school where she was.
I had not seen here for a few weeks, she had returned to the UK.
We should have maintained contact after that meeting, but it just goes to show how a chance comment can just be the unravelling of a life no less ordinary and eerily uncanny.
More talk no race.
The Dutch do talk about the weather too, in the summer if it arrives, it is too hot, and when it gets to winter many wish it gets cold enough for the lakes and waterways in Frieseland to the North of the country to freeze over solidly for the Eleven Cities Race (Elfstedentocht) do not bother twisting your on that, you might require corrective surgery.
The Elfstedentocht is a 200 kilometre speed-skating competition on the frozen ice which was last held in 1997, basically, we have not had the weather to stage the event again since there are regulation thicknesses required of the ice for the race safely has not been satisfied.
It is no wonder the Dutch are featured champions in international speed skating competitions, however, the lack of mountains in the Netherlands also signifies why they do not feature in skiing – flat for skates, hills for skis – it would take another generation of the Dutch to reclaim land for topological features like mountains and valleys.
Global warming weather play
It might be the effects of global warming, but then there was a 22 year break between 1963 and 1985 when the weather did to play to expectations. Just as they have mastered land reclamation, I would expect an ice-thickening invention to keep the race from passing into distant history.
It is a very sunny day in Berlin at the moment, but be not deceived, it is also dreadfully cold, I learnt about weather the hard way in 2001, when at minus 13 Celsius in Amsterdam, I could almost break off my ears for the cold, and just because I saw no frost on cars as one does in England, I thought it was just me.
I should have noticed that the ponds and canals were already frozen over, just as outside my holiday apartment in Berlin, the garden is covered in white – I think it is ice and the sun as brilliant is it is shining is melting none of it.
That is the weather for you, this summer; I should be getting sun-burnt again in Gran Canaria.

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