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Thoughts on rain, politicians, 'Her Madge'


 A woman wades through a flooded street in Egham, England, earlier this month. Some of the country's towns and villages have been flooded for six weeks or more.
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Date published: 3/1/2014

BANBURY, England

--I have been restored to my beloved motherland for almost six weeks now. And it has rained on every single day of every one of those six weeks.

There are villages in the Somerset Levels, a most beautiful area in the west of England that have been flooded since I came home, and those poor folk are still under water today. Just imagine the hardship. We are used to the weather being a bit damp over here; after all, it's a part of our national heritage, but, come on, this is ridiculous!

When I left your hospitable shores, you were deep in the grip of a bitterly cold, savage winter. It appeared that the entire nation was shivering in below-zero temperatures. Even Atlanta dropped into the blue for the first time in living memory. There was talk of a shifting Gulf Stream, subsequently not proven, and vast areas of the country were covered by deep snow. Everyone gritted their teeth and got on with things.

But then the winds from the north abated a little and a "normal"' sort of winter resumed. What impressed me most during those bleak, wintry conditions was that the weather was never allowed to dominate your chosen way of life. The roads were instantly (it appeared to me) salted and cleared by an army of workers using exactly the right equipment to do the job. Interstate 95 was able to resume its usual role of the largest car park on the planet with no extra inconvenience.

How differently matters are dealt with in our humble little island where the "wrong kind of snow" has been known to bring rail traffic to a standstill. Last year, whilst I was enjoying my customary mild Virginia winter, the U.K. froze over: Roads, rail and air transport ground to a halt, and one reason given was that local authorities had "run out" of salt. The wintry conditions, you see, had taken them by surprise. Ice and snow in December; whatever will they think of next? Those of us who can number more than a few summers have learnt never to be surprised by anything the British weather can throw at us, so why does the weather always seem to take the authorities by surprise?


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