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Dan: Hello and welcome to the British Culture Club. The podcast, online magazine and videos exploring British culture.
Today, we're going to be talking about that subject that the British love the most, the weather.
We've just published our new online magazine, which is about the weather, and I'm going to be talking to Jessica about how she decided what to put in the magazine.
I'd like to ask you a bit about how you really thought about what you were going to put into the magazine, because it seems that the weather is everywhere in, in British culture. So what did you decide to put into the magazine?
Jessica: Yeah, so it's quite hard because it is something. That people talk about every day and it's something that happens every day and changes all the time. So picking specific things to focus on was quite hard, cause it is such a big part of British culture. So I decided to include the kind of confirmation that it is something that we talk about all the time and is big part of our culture.
And. I sort of picked a few areas such as the fact that we find it in our literature, in all of British literature throughout history. You find it in a lot of British music. You find it in a lot of British poetry. But also it's something that affects people's moods a lot and it affects the everyday all of our conversations.
There's just so much variety to it. It is something that's a big part of life in Britain.
Dan: So going back to literature can you give us some examples of where we find the weather in famous literature or famous authors?
Jessica: Yeah. So, one thing that is very noticeable is that there is a lot of talk about the weather in Shakespeare. , across a lot of his plays, he was someone who lived in quite a rural part of Britain and was affected by the weather a lot. So you find it in all of his writings, you find it in Macbeth, you find it in the Tempest and especially you find it in King Lear.
There's a famous scene where there's a big storm that changes the course of events in the story. And Shakespeare often used weather to change the course of events or introduce characters.
Dan: Or set the scene, I guess as well. You know, "when shall we three meet again, in the thunder lightning or in rain", the witches at the start of Macbeth. What about music? I can think of some people who, who writes about the weather all the time in their music. And again, just to sort of set the scene and set the mood.
Jessica: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think you will find. A wide range of weather in a lot of British music. But I think probably the thing that's most common is songs that celebrate sunshine. I think we don't get sunshine that often, or it doesn't last that long here. So everyone wants to celebrate when it is sunny.
So, I mean, for example, there are songs like "Here comes the sun" by the Beatles and "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra. And these are all sort of celebrations of the sun, but you do also find all kinds of other weather all through British music.
Dan: There's a whole language around the weather, which people might not use or, or recognize if they're learning English could you give us some examples?
Jessica: Yeah, of course. I think one of my favorites is to do with rain. And it's the word "drizzling". Which means that it's only raining lightly. It makes me sort of think of a lemon drizzle cake when you pour the drizzle on it's only lightly covered. But then you also have "it's spitting", which is like drizzling, but even less.
So it's raining very, very lightly. Or you can have on the opposite end of that really heavy rain and people might say, "it's tipping it down" or "it's chucking it down".
Dan: Yeah. And and if it's a bit cold, then "it's a bit nippy"
Jessica: Yeah, that's a really good one.
Dan: You've included some quotes from Shakespeare and some poetry in the online magazine. Would you mind reading some for us?
Jessica: A lot of romantic poets like to write about the weather, particularly people like William Wordsworth. So this is a poem of his called I wandered lonely as a cloud.
"I wondered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills. When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils. Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze".
Dan: Very nice. Thank you very much. I'm going to put a link in the show notes below to that online magazine so people can find it and read it. Thanks very much.
Having written the magazine, Jessica has spoken to a few people in different parts of the country to get their opinions on the weather. Here she is speaking to Amy.
Jessica: Hi, Amy. So you're based in Cumbria in the Lake District, which is just below Scotland. What's the weather been like there for you today?
Amy: It's been very windy today. Very cold. We had a tiny bit of snow just coming in, which I'm hoping there's going to be more overnight, but yeah, otherwise just very cold, very windy.
Jessica: You say you're hoping for more snow. How does snow make you feel and how does the current weather make you feel?
Amy: I absolutely love it. I think it's so magical the way that it settles on the ground and makes everything just look so beautiful and really transforms the landscape. I think usually there's a bit of a risk when it's really snowy or really icy because people are driving and that can be quite dangerous.
But as most people are at home at the moment, because we're in lockdown, that's kind of less of a risk. And it's more just a case of going for a walk, in the snow kind of across fields and that sort of thing. So it's really nice.
Jessica: Do you think that the weather where you are changes your feelings towards where you are in the country? Or do you think there is specific weather to your part of the country?
Amy: Yeah, well, we get an awful lot of rain. So it's been quite nice today that it hasn't rained and it's always nice when we get snow instead, but because we're near the mountains and we get a lot of, yeah, rain from that because of the weather system. And we also get a lot of flooding because of the amount of water that comes down.
Yeah. So I think as an area, we are very controlled by the weather.
Jessica: So you mentioned flooding and that kind of thing, and lots of rain, which isn't great. What's your favourite kind of weather or your favourite season?
Amy: I absolutely love autumn. I think it's the most beautiful time of year when all the leaves change. And that's the kind of the time when you can get some quite brilliant, clear blue skies and quite sunny days, but it's not too hot. Cause I don't really like really hot weather. So that's nice. But yeah, I mean, I do, I like the rain when I can stay inside and I can read and kind of get on with my day and it be quite cozy. But it's just a bit of a problem when you're trying to go out and do things and it's chucking it down and quite horrid
Jessica: Yep. Very true. So how often do you think that you talk to other people about the weather?
Amy: Everyday. I'm sure I talk to the people that I live with about the weather every single day. Especially at the moment because we're in winter and it's quite changeable. So today it was very cold and windy, whereas tomorrow it could be solid rain all day. And yet all we're talking about, Oh, look at how much snow we can see on the mountains or look how full the river is because it's been raining, that sort of thing.
So, yeah, I think we talk about it pretty much constantly.
Jessica: yeah, I would say the same. And you say you talk to the people you live with about it. I mean, are there any restrictions on who you would talk about the weather to?
Amy: Yeah, I don't think so. I think the weather's quite a safe topic of conversation. I mean, it's usually used, or it's quite often used as sort of icebreaker or if you don't know a person very well, and you're trying to find small talk It's quite common to talk about the weather then. So, no, I don't think there are any barriers.
Jessica: So a final question for you. Do you have a favourite song about the weather?
Amy: So I think there's quite a lot of songs that are about the weather. And I probably listened to quite a lot, but the one that I've thought of is Restless Wind by Passenger, which is a really beautiful song. And. I don't know. I think it captures quite a lot of emotions that are tied in with the wind and how it moves and how it changes and how you just want the wind to take you with it.
I think it's beautiful.
Jessica: That's perfect. Thank you.
So that was Jessica speaking to Amy, who is in Cumbria in the North West of England. She's now going to speak to Leon who is in the Southwest of England, near Bath.
Jessica: Leon is here with me and we are just outside of Bath.
Why do you think British people like to talk about the weather so much? Why do you think it's specific to Britain?
Leon: I think maybe, maybe it could be to do with how our weather differs and often you can get very different days, one after the next. And you do get a lot of variety within the weather.
I mean, over, over the last week, we've had snow just over a week ago and. we've had really frosty mornings or really sunny days, or really windy and cold days and when rain. So I think it's, it's probably because of the large variety in different weathers.
Jessica: Do you think that the weather has a specific effect
on your mood?
Leon: Definitely. Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of the time, if you wake up to some sun, then it can really, you know, brighten your day. And it, it can kind of put you in a good mood for the day.
And, and on other days when it's really grey and dull, it definitely can be impactful on your, on your mentality for the day and the feelings that you have throughout the day.
Jessica: Yeah, for sure. And how do you feel about the snow when it snowed the other week?
How'd that make you feel?
Leon: Well, we obviously get snow maybe once or maybe twice if we're lucky each year.
And so obviously very exciting whenever we do get snow and it is a really nice kind of thing to wake up to, and then just kind of put on more clothes and run outside and go make snowmen or have a snowball fight.
Jessica: Yeah, we don't get much snow here very often. So it's it's very exciting when it does happen.
Do you have a favourite kind of weather or favourite season in which you liked the weather?
Leon: I think. The obvious answer there would probably be, yes, I love it when it's sunny and when it's warm and, and in summer, when it's, when it's not too hot and you can either wear a t-shirt or you can wear a jumper and it's a very comfortable temperature.
But of course, when it's snowing. I also love that. And also when it's very stormy, maybe a bit of thunder and lightning and heavy rain I really love that too. It sometimes, it can be very just, yeah, exciting.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed us talking about the weather in this episode. You can find the online magazine by following the link in the show notes below, or by going to our website at britishcultureclub.org. Wishing everyone, a bright, bright sunshiny day. See you next time.
The British Culture Club is a Languages United project.
Languages United is a language school which provides English courses, both online and in their school in Bath. To find out more visit www.languagesunited.co.uk. Thank you