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A British Obsession

Image: © Davy D Writer

‘Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.’

Oscar Wilde

A winter chill has returned. The balmy and uncharacteristic 16 degrees centigrade, experienced a few weeks ago here in the UK, has gone. Outside of the writing den the temperature has dropped to minus seven degrees. The trees and garden look like they have been doused in talcum powder.

More reason for staying indoors and getting on with some January tasks I always set myself, procrastinating through them until the arrival of spring. One such task is sorting out my bookshelves. A Christmas gift from my wife was the book, Bibliomaniac – An Obsessive’s Tour Of The Bookshops Of Britain, written by Robin Ince. Anybody who has a love of books, or is a book hoarder, like me, would enjoy the story, which is described as, ‘an addiction and a romance,’

Bibliomaniac gave me a nudge to rest and donate some books and create room for any new ones acquired in the coming year. As I write, I have noticed every available piece of floor space is covered with book piles. All I seem to be achieving is moving them from shelves to floor.

Another thing I noticed is the number of books I own relating to weather. Here is a snapshot.

Along with tea drinking and queuing, it appears I have acquired an extra British obsession, the weather.

‘It Looks Like Rain’

In 2018, a survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by Bristol Airport, suggested the average British person spends the equivalent of four and a half months of their life talking about weather. Fifty percent said chatting about sunshine or rain is their go-to subject when making small talk.

Other surveys found that 94 percent of Brits have conversed about weather in the past six hours, while 38 percent say they have in the past 60 minutes.

According to British anthropologist, Kate Fox, ‘at almost any moment in time in this country, at least a third of the population is either talking about the weather, has already done so, or is about to do so.’

It is good to discover I am near normal, as I was contemplating adding weather to a multitude of other stresses and obsessions writers acquire over time. A carpet of books is staring at me begging to be put back on the shelves. The sun has just appeared from a gathering of cumulus clouds and is calling me outside. Procrastination is alive and kicking in this part of the world.

Have you any obsessions you would like to share? I would love to find out about them. Have a sunny weekend.



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