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I have always assumed that talking about the weather was a fairly universal matter and everywhere the weather can be rather unpredictable. In Florida, we deal with hurricanes, tornados, and flooding, but I learned in the weather chapter of Kate Fox’s Watching the English that the English do not want to hear about how everything is bigger in the States. This was helpful knowledge for me to have because I could easily see an English person making a comment about how much it was raining and I would respond about how this was nothing compared to Hurricane Frances and Jean in ‘04.

So, what I have gleaned based on the book and my interactions with the Brits is that they are probably the most non-straightforward people I have ever met and the weather is an excuse to talk to other people that they want to talk to. My first day of work, I experienced just this. Every person I met at the office made a comment about the weather and how I would always need an umbrella, sunglasses, and gloves in my purse to deal with the unpredictability of England’s weather. To them, talking about the weather is something to talk about with the American girl that “doesn’t really have an accent.” The CEO of the company even made a comment to me about how this must be nothing compared to the hurricanes in Florida, but I was prepared and brushed it off like hurricanes were not that big of a deal (a slight lie).

 

 



  • Being from Houston, a city subject to both flash flooding and hurricanes, I’ve had similar experiences at work. Both my boss and co-workers have asked me my opinion on the weather. My initial instinct is always to attempt to relate to them by joining in their complaining about the rain here in London. However, in Watching the English Fox talks about the fact that while the English love to complain about their weather, they get offended when foreigners do so. In attempting not to criticize English weather, my next instinct is always to respond about how the rain in London is a nuisance but nothing compared to the hurricanes and flash-flooding in Houston. However, as you mentioned, Fox also discusses the fact that the English don’t like Americans comparing weather in England to weather in the States. When asked by my co-workers about the weather, I have to force myself to give them a very non-straightforward response in order to avoid violating rules of English culture. I agree with you that weather for the English is just a social function our co-workers seem to use solely to make conversation with us.


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