Monday, July 16th 2012, 7:50 AM EDT
So what if the expert view is that an Ice Age is imminent – the cold never held Britain back
I put down the phone and gazed at the teeming skies. I considered my options. Maybe it was time for prayer. Perhaps we could stage a pagan ritual at Stonehenge, involving either the sacrifice of maidens (if there are any these days), or a goat, or a rabbit, or maybe just a worm — whatever the RSPCA would allow.
Maybe it was time to call upon the sun god Ra, or Phoebus Apollo, or Sol Victrix, or whatever name he now goes by, and lift our hands in chanting entreaty. Come on, O thou fiery spirit that animates the world. Come on out from wherever you are hiding. Shine the light of your countenance upon us, you miserable blighter. Extend thy beams, so reverend and strong, and dry the water from our upturned cheeks. Flatter the mountain tops with your sovereign eye, vaporise the thunderheads, and give us all a break.
Give us poor Britons some kind of a summer – before the entire country dissolves like a sugar cube and sinks into the sea. If you think July has been wet so far, you should hear the forecast I have just been given. In fact, I am about to pass on the news, but before I do so I want you to know (a) that I flatly refuse to believe it and (b) that even if it turns out to be true, then I know that it will make not a bean of difference to our collective morale or to the global festival of sport that we are about to lay on in London.
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I have just been on the blower to my old chum, Piers Corbyn, the world’s foremost meteorological soothsayer, and he sounds like Jeremiah with an ingrown toenail. This is the same Corbyn, with a first-class degree in physics, who decisively beat the Met Office in 2010 and accurately forecast the cold and snowy winter — and I am afraid he has been bearish about this summer from sometime in February or March.
According to Piers and his team at Weather Action, we all underestimate the role of the sun. This is set to be just about the wettest July on record, he says, and that is mainly because of things taking place in the nuclear fireball millions of miles away from earth. “Sometime too bright the eye of heaven shines,” says the Poet, and often is his gold complexion dimmed. This is one of the dim moments. The old boy is suffering from some kind of solar acne, called “coronal holes”, and on July 12 he apparently emitted a colossal flare - a cosmic spurt of X-rays and other charged particles; and, by a process that we (or at least I) do not fully understand – perhaps because rain droplets form more easily when there are charged particles around – this distemper in the celestial orb is helping to cause the current inundations.
For the sake of completeness, and so that no one can later accuse me of concealing the bad news (what did he know about the weather, and when did he know it?), I should say that Piers has a general thesis that the current phase of grim weather – cold, snowy winters and wet summers – is just the prelude to something yet more bracing. We are heading, he says, for a mini Ice Age. These wet Julys and frosty Januaries are part of the opening drum roll of a cold period that will set in over the next decades.
Some say it will be upon us by 2045, some say by 2030. Looking at the pattern of the last few years, Piers Corbyn now thinks it could be sooner than that. He does not say that sabretooth tigers will roam the streets of Newcastle. He does not say that the Thames will freeze at London Bridge and that we will have fairs on the ice – unlikely, given how fast the river flows these days. But he does believe that it will get nippier, and that we will see the kind of cold period last experienced in the late 17th century and early 18th century.
That is the long-range forecast; and as for the next few days – well, do you want me to tell you what the short-term forecast is? Do you really want to know what the augur Corbyn foresees for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games? Brace yourselves. “We’re very confident that there will be a lot of rain – a deluge, really – during the entire Olympic period, and we are 80 per cent sure that the Opening Ceremony itself will feature heavy rain, including hail and thunder.”
Well, my friends, I have two rejoinders. The first is that I don’t necessarily agree. Piers may be wrong. As I look out of my window this very moment, I can see beautiful blue sky and high, fleecy clouds – a perfect day. I have watched the flight of the birds, and they seem perfectly auspicious to me (a pair of pigeons, obviously much in love, occupying the right hand portion of the sky). Over the course of lunch I will examine the entrails of my Cornish pasty, but I can already tell you the results of the extispicy. Yes, there will be some greyish turnip, presaging more cloud; but also bright yellow swede, indicating more glorious sunshine.
In other words, it is going to be a classic English late July; and even if Corbyn is right in every particular – even if we can expect some more moisture – is that the end of the world? We have just staged a flawless Wimbledon; huge crowds are turning out for the torch relay, whatever the weather, and all enjoying themselves; the parks are heaving with joyous concerts, rain or shine. And even if we are about to enter a little Ice Age, the last ones didn’t seem to impede Britain’s rise to a position of global dominance.
Blow, winds and crack your cheeks. Blow, you cataracts and hurricanoes, spout till you have drenched our country yet again. We don’t give a monkey’s. We like a spot of precipitation. It intensifies the pleasure of the sun. Made us what we are. And by the way, it still rains more in Rome than it does in London.
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