The Weather

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Addicted to the weather. I came out of the closet the other day. I'd gone in there by mistake after a particularly absorbing (an appropriate term) afternoon at a vineyard.

But that's neither here nor there.

However, in terms of 'coming out', in the sense where some long-hidden secret or emotion is unleashed, I have indeed decided it is time to show my hand.

I am a weather watcher.

In the way some people take an acute interest in trains, and others like to sit in their gardens at night and log the trajectories of satellites, I take an unhealthy interest in the weather.

Not just whether the sun will be out tomorrow, or where that low-pressure system will head after beating up the Queensland (Australia) seaboard I'm a nosy world weather watcher.

This sad pursuit is in itself not unlike the weather. It is in a state of constant change.

Some days it is still ... as calm as a sleeping child. Other days it rages away inside my head like a cyclone - out of control and ruling (and ruining) my life.

At this time of the year the condition is quite severe because summer is slipping away.

This is the time when I really fasten up the old anorak and indulge in the foolish, but addictive, pastime of comparing temperatures as our days grow shorter and those in the northern lands grow longer.

This whole sorry condition has its roots back in the mid-70s when I was in England.

At the height of the summer of '74 (a year after one of the hottest summers the Brits had ever endured) I glanced at a page of the rather undistinguished New Zealand News (copies available from NZ House in Haymarket) and saw that the South Island had been hammered by a storm or two. I mentioned it later to a Pommy (English) bloke who was staying at a mate's flat and said the relatively 'tropical' Hawke's Bay seaboard never tasted snow or really foul weather.

Then I made the naive mistake of saying;
'Our winters are like your summers.'

The minute I said it I realised I had fallen into a state of pratdom. There I was, somewhere in west London, enjoying an evening temperature of about 23 degrees trying to convince a local this was like a Hawke's Bay winter.

He pounced like a cat - his eyes glowing with revenge and a clear eagerness to inform me he had an aunt in a place called Hastings. And not the one in East Sussex. With a grin Anthony Hopkins would later use for his role as Hannibal Lecter, he detailed how his aunty, in a letter to his mum, mentioned snow had fallen near a place called Dannevirke and the frosts were getting rougher. It was 11 degrees.

'Oh yeah ... but that's Hastings mate.'

I said.
'It's always colder in Hastings, (12 miles south of Napier), in winter.'

Upon hearing this, my mate remarked that according to the NZ News the temperature in Napier was 10 degrees.

I conceded, but childishly fought on using the 'your summers are like our autumns' line.

Since then, at the approach of every southern winter and northern summer, the vision of that Londoner's vengeful face returns and I find myself drawn to the international weather temperatures.

For some odd reason I get the feeling he's doing the same.

Sometimes I wake in the middle of an April night after dreaming it's November and that the warm season is approaching like a runaway freight train. But I get jolted back to reality by the realisation there's condensation forming on the windows ... and on my head. I then silently make my way to the living room to sneak another look at the international weather temperatures and sigh with relief when I see London is 'cloudy - 10deg'.

I smile when I read our forecast of 'mainly fine, some cloud - 22deg' and whisper to myself '12 degrees difference ... we're still ahead.'

I scour the newspapers for a weather fix at least five times a day to make myself feel good, and sometimes turn on the TV to catch the CNN international weather wrap - my fingers crossed in anticipation of rain falling across the old country.

Of course it will be a different story in two month's time but I still thrill to the occasional sight of a midsummer London weather report of 'rain - 17deg'. I usually throw a party or shout the bar when ours reads 'sunny - 16deg'.

And I think of the look on that Londoners face and I can almost hear him mutter 'curses' ... because I'm sure he's addicted to the weather as well.


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