‘It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first
talk is of the weather.’
Samuel Johnson

English people are notorious for their endless fascination with the weather, a topic that is deployed nationwide as an ice-breaker. When two strangers meet, in a train or a queue for example, it is virtually de rigueur to enjoy a short conversation about the weather. The primary function of this fascination with the weather is, of course, to break down the English person’s natural reserve; it offers a universal, and neutral, topic, which everyone, from a small child to an elderly grandmother, enjoys discussing. Other countries endure far more noteworthy weather events – droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes – but the English weather is, above all, unpredictable. Sunshine, showers, wind and rain sweep across the country with extraordinary rapidity, providing an ever-changing outlook. And in these days of global warming, English people can now enjoy discussing ever more unpredictable weather – blizzards in April, floods in July, and so on. With the weather as a topic, conversation is never going to falter.

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