Friday, 22 January 2010

The Importance of Sunshine

Today I met an Italian who misses the sunshine as much as I do. I don't understand these clouds, he said, gesturing skyward with his hands. Where I come from [the south of Italy], he says, it rains and then the clouds go. Here, they stay.

It's true. England has a persistent cloud problem. It is where clouds come on holiday. It's a cloud parking lot. It's a cloud bank, where weather stores them until it needs them elsewhere. Maybe it's the cloud doldrums.

Of course, there are plenty of days where clouds race across the sky or the odd days where it's sunny, but the persistent, oppressive, low cloud cover is, in my opinion, park of the English experience. It makes me wonder if you can attribute certain cultural characteristics to the weather of a region. Why wouldn't it? Five days of no sunshine and these heavy clouds resting on my shoulders has an impact on my mental outlook.

Where I come from, sunshine is so reliable you could bet on it. One source says it's sunny 60% of the time -- the rest of the time, it's fog. Then there's the occasional cloud bank and the rare rain clouds. The weather is so consistent that the movie industry set its headquarters there. It knew it could count on not losing money or time to bad weather. It's so reliably sunny, that people get irritated when it's not. I might be one of those people. During the months of May-grey and June-gloom, when a thick fog settles on the area and takes half a day to burn back to sea and then spends the evening rolling back in, I really miss the sun. Sure, it's fascinating to see the fog come in over the hills, but I like waking up to blue skies.

It has been a rather grey and damp here for the last five days. Normally, you get count on at least an hour of sunshine at some point during the day (frequently morning). I don't think that's been the case here lately. There have been changes in the cloudiness. Some nights, the clouds come down to the ground.

The forecast predicts the sun will make it's way through tomorrow. I am hopeful.

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