Moaning about the weather. It’s about as British as Stephen Fry smothered in Marmite, but why? Why is it such a monumental part of our culture, and why do so many conversations begin ‘Nice weather we’re having’?

It was Oscar Wilde who famously said ‘conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative,’ but in an attempt to find out what normal, non-legendary-nineteenth-century-wordsmith, people think about the weather I interviewed a selection of people from different age ranges and parts of the country.

The questions were as follows;

1) Do you often find yourself talking about the weather?

2) What do you think about the weather we’ve been having recently?

3) Do you believe that conversations about the weather are fundamentally British?

4) If yes, why?

5) What is it about British weather that makes it such a common talking point?

Graham, aged 56, High Wycombe-

1) In my job, yes, I do. I work in agriculture and it comes up a lot.

2) It’s s***.

3) Traditionally, yes.

4) Because we live on an island and we’re essentially a rural nation. Agriculture, wind, rain and sun go hand in hand; don’t they? Every job is dependent on good weather, but my profession especially so.

5) It affects everybody- wherever you are. It’s common ground.

Mia, aged 16, Essex

1) I do actually. I mention it to someone at least once a day, sometimes more.

2) Rubbish. I hate it. The few warm days we had a few weeks ago were lovely, but it just got worse. And it shouldn’t be snowing in March, That’s just wrong.

3) Hmm, I think we’ve taken the stereotype on-board and made it fundamentally British. Like, I’m sure other cultures comment on it just as much, we’ve just decided to make it ‘our thing.’

4) Somehow I think I answered that question in the previous answer…

5) Probably because we enjoy complaining. It’s either too hot or too cold! It rains too much! There’s too much sun! The weather’s something everyone’s familiar and up to date with, and something other people can agree with and discuss without causing any intense arguments. And you know us British; Always so polite.

Stella, aged 86, Gerrards Cross-

1) Yes, I suppose so. As much as everyone else.

2) It seems quite varied, I suppose it’s a question of the time of year, but you’d expect this time to be warmer.

3) Oh yes, I think so. Oh yes.

4) Other countries have their weather but, like my brother (who had a house in South Africa), they have hot seasons and then rainy seasons etc. Our weather is very special.

5) It’s all a matter of planning; what one should wear, whether to wear a raincoat or wellington boots, and whether you can go outside. It’s all about planning. It reminds me of the poem;
 Whether the weather be hot,
Or whether the weather be dry,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

Nurulain, aged 16, Totteridge-

1) All the time. Complaining about the weather, comparing the weather to other countries' weather, comparing it to weather we've had before. Sometimes it's not even full conversations, just multiple times across the day someone will look out of the window and make a comment on the weather.

2) It’s pretty rubbish, in my opinion. Bitter cold and damp and snowy. It shouldn't be snowing this much when it's almost April, regardless of whether it settles or not. Where did spring go?

3)  Absolutely.

4) Perhaps it's because British people tend to like complaining about things, and our weather is pretty rubbish, so naturally it's an easy thing to complain about because 9 times out of 10 whoever you're talking to will agree with you that the weather is rubbish.

5) There's the whole 'British people are self-depreciating' angle where we make fun of ourselves and if we make fun of our weather it's like we're putting ourselves down for something that’s not really our fault? Like, we can still mock ourselves, but not actually putting ourselves at fault because we can't help the weather.


Caroline, aged 49, Chalfont St Peter-

1) Yes. Because it’s usually something to talk about at school pick up time when I’m standing on the playground and it’s pelting down.

2) Appalling.

3) Well I wouldn’t be able to comment on that.

4)  Because I am British- but I know it’s often said that we have four seasons in an hour, although it’s more like a minute. Take this morning for example; clear blue skies and it randomly starts snowing. Where did that come from? 
(At this point Graham butts in to say ‘the sky’)

5) Exactly what I said. It’s because it’s so random. You can never say you’re in summertime because what is summertime?

In addition to the interviews, I also did some research. Did you know that 70% of British people check the weather forecast at least once a day? And that Sandie Dawe, Visit Britain’s Chief Executive, described our relationship with the weather as an ‘utter obsession’? But surely our fascination shouldn’t be sneered at, our unique climate has helped to inspire some of our greatest inventions; the Golden Barometer, the lighthouse, and the lifeboat, for example.

But whatever your personal views on the matter, the Met Office predicts that the chilly weather will last until the end of April. The frozen temperatures have already left thousands of people without power and created disruption on many transport routes across the UK, with some motorists trapped by 20ft snow drifts!

To check the weather where you are, click onto the BBC website.