herald

Monday 16 July 2018

What's the point of a sunny day if we're not expecting it?

PLEASE, all I want to know is do I take the Speedos or the anorak ?

I mean is that too much to ask ?

Apparently it is for our weather forecasters. Maybe, like me, you've been bamboozled with weather predictions that turn out to be totally wrong.

What with the euro crisis to contend with and Twink becoming an agony aunt . . . well, there is only so much you can take.

And then the one thing which determines our mood, the weather, turns against us.

Because we live in rain and cold for nine months of the year, summer is vital to us.

Accordingly, we need to know when it's going to be bright. Our weathermen have as a result become the New Prophets.

Sadly their prophecies are now regarded with as much faith as a Department of Finance bulletin.

The other day, five kids and I were set for the beach.

The night before as we watched TV we cheered the weathergirl who promised a heatwave that would make a camel sweat. Next morning we had applied enough sun-cream to fill the ozone layer.

On the way to the beach we saw other sun prospectors, their SUV wagons all hitched up ready for them thar golden hills. We sat in traffic for hours as the children attempted murder on each other. It didn't matter. The weathergirl had told us that our Sun God was about to appear.

And what did we get? That slow malevolent movement in the sky as the grey cloud drifted in.

Then just when we were expecting the worst on another day or two this week, lo, the sun came out, the clouds disappeared and we ended up with a real summer's day.

For which we were entirely unprepared. It's almost worse than expecting good, and then getting bad weather.

If we don't know it's coming, how can we make the most of it?

My heart sank on the day the clouds rolled in when we were assured of sunshine. Crestfallen, I looked at the new Speedos purchased in a high-end store.

I saw the kids turn serial-killer nasty: "But you said we'd have a barbecue . . ".

Maybe we expect too much of our weather forecasters. Maybe their expertise is looking at longer term trends. Poor Evelyn Cusack apologised earlier this year after the previous day's forecast from the team turned out to be a bit off .

But, and here's the crucial thing, why don't they just stop forecasting?

Let's return to more ancient ways of divining the meteorological impulses of the planet.

At the moment I'm down in a lovely cottage near the beach. Around the corner lives a farmer. Pat is my new weathergirl.

Pat, to be fair, is not glamorous but he gets it right.

"Well Pat, what do you reckon?" I asked him the other day.

"I'd say you'll get sun til four then it'll break and rain around teatime."

I looked at him with an awe once reserved for bank managers. And sure enough it happened as he predicted.

And so as we face the first hints of autumnal chill, best to surrender to whatever the day brings. Just like politicians and bankers you need to realise there are certain things in life you can't control. As for me, I'm off to Eygpt. Pat says it's sure to be sunny.

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