If you want to engage in small talk with a Brit, there’s only one thing you’ll definitely need to chat about – the weather. Whether it’s complaining about the rain, or talking about snow coming late this year, the British would be at a loss for words if it wasn’t for the weather. I’ve filled more embarrassing silences with chat about forthcoming snow or sleet than Madison Square Garden vendors have filled bread rolls with Hebrew National hotdogs.
And let’s face it, Britain has so much weather going on that it’s not like people are short of conversation. The only thing that makes the British happier than some unseasonal early summer sun is talking about the unseasonal early summer sun (and how it’s likely to be the only sun they get all summer). The UK is probably the only country in the world that looks forward to forty days and forty nights of rain, just because it gives us something concrete to complain about.
With all that in mind, the British in New York are in their element right now, with stifling 99F degree heat (37C degrees in real money) bringing the city to its (sweaty and blotchy) knees. Walking out of air-conditioned buildings into the open-air is like walking through one of those heat curtains that greet you as you enter Boots the Chemist, except for the fact that the curtain covers the city (and it’s the delicate but unmistakable tones of body odour that lurk behind it, rather than the intoxicating sandalwood with herbacious topnotes aroma of Dior’s latest fragrance).
Yesterday afternoon I stepped out of the office to send a Father’s Day card to Brit Out Of Water Sr from the post office literally across the road. I probably took less than 100 paces, and was away from an air-conditioned environment for no more than three minutes. Nonetheless, I returned to my desk resembling an about-to-be-committed gibbering idiot who had decided to pay a visit to a local water park while wearing full office clothing.
I’d like to say that I was glowing rather than sweating. In reality I was probably lucky to get away without causing an electrical fire when I sat back down at my keyboard. If the next fifty on the 200 Things You Simply Have To Know About New York list is delayed, don’t blame me.
I’ll be out looking for a waterproofed computer.