Well, this it, the last weekend of the summer of 2011, and well despite some really gorgeous days in April (which is technically Spring) and a few good sunny days since then, it has by all accounts been one of the most typical British summers I can remember.
For those outside the UK, the cliche of the British always talking about the weather is cliche which we truly deserve, but that is because it is such a changeable thing, we're always optimistic, the excited chatter as there was back in April, "perhaps it's going to be a really hot one this year". Well no, it wasn't, and were we surprised, no we weren't, our lives spent in the UK had us prepared for such an outcome and although as spring sprang from the darker shades of winter there was even talk of a drought over the summer, as the winter this year had been one of the driest on record (just about every year is the something "ist" on record for something. In fact there was talk of the whole of the British harvest failing, but we should have known that we got the dry patch in the winter, which helped make it freezing, and we'd have our rain during the summer, but one half of my family being farmers. I was glad that the weather provided for the country and that we weren't left needing to import vast amounts of food which would doubtless had a knock on affect on poorer countries.
But that still leaves how best to define the experience of a British summer in the minds of most British people. I think everyone in England will know what I mean when I say that the expectation of the British people to summer is much like that of England football supporters prior to the World Cup. (I'm not for a second confusing England with Britain, but using an example that is specific to England, to encapsulate a mindset of the British). In the run up to the world cup (an England supporter can probably see where I'm going with this) every England supporter feels a stirring of the heart, a feeling that maybe this time, with a bit of luck, if we can just hold our nerve, maybe this time we can win it. It defies all logic, the rest of the world knows that England isn't going to win the world cup, but somehow in the heart of every England supporter, there is an optimism which remains strong, but which in reality it is completely unrealistic. The other home nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales (if they have played well enough to qualify) are concerned with doing their best, perhaps beating a good side in the qualifiers is the best they can hope for. But they know, it's not going to happen. But when as England inevitably gets knocked out, England fans turn to each other, all knowing they were thinking the same thing when they hoped for the best, and now the end has come, are thinking they knew this was the reality they'd stood in the face of right until this moment, but deep down it was a moment that they knew would come, and that ultimately they were ready for.
So that's the reality of the British when it comes to being optimistic about the weather during our summers. Just like the England football supporter, we know that in reality all the odds are against us, but we hope this time it's going to be perfect, the reality hits us. We knew in our hearts that it would.
But then, there's always next time.