I am English, therefore I am weather-obsessed

Man, do I have "grass is greener" syndrome.  When it snowed on and off for 5 months between November 2012 and March 2013, I booked myself a holiday to California and started making plans for a life where I would never have to be that cold again.  Now, two and a half years into living in Australia, I'm nostalgic for the snow.  And not in the Aussie sense where "the snow" is a location: some inland mountain range if you're low budget, Queenstown NZ if you're splashing out a bit more, and Japan if you're really going for it.  Here, "the snow" is a place you go and take lots of pictures of yourself wearing chunky clothing near or on a snowboard, and then pick the one where you're least recognisable to use on your Tinder profile.  Fuck that snow.  What I want is the English snow that blankets the town and turns your drab London suburb into a Christmas card so perfectly saccharine it could give you diabetes.  I want to make a half-arsed attempt at a snowman, then give up and go inside for a Baileys hot chocolate.  I want to throw snowballs at my dog's face and laugh as he manages to be surprised every single time they disintegrate on impact.  I want all the good bits of winter without the frizzy hair and chapped skin.

Except of course that's a fiction.  And frankly, even writing the words 'chapped skin' induced in me a psychosomatic urge to reach for the hand lotion.  The reality is that the snow quickly becomes sludge, and you fall on your arse on your way to a lecture and have to spend the first 5 minutes sitting on a radiator because you're soaked through.  Granted, a kaftan and Doc Martens is not the easiest outfit to walk in anyway, but God help me if I start putting practicality over personal flair.  Even when I do dress appropriately, it never seems to be enough because I have next to no body fat so the smallest breeze goes right to my bones (humblebrag, I don't care).  And thanks to the preponderance of old buildings in the UK, where the concept of energy efficiency in architecture peaked with castles in the 11th century and pretty much plateaued after that, there is no escape from the cold.  You're at home, next to the radiator with the heating cranked high as it will go, under a blanket, wearing two jumpers and a hoodie left behind by that guy you're mostly in denial about sleeping with (desperate times, desperate measures), and still you're shivering.  It makes me miserable.

I can't be satisfied though, because I just don't think Sydney does a good winter.  It does a good autumn - cold, crisp air with bright sunshine, and you don't need too many layers - but autumn lasts 6 months until the blossoms start appearing on the trees and you realise you've skipped ahead to spring.  True, snow is not a guaranteed winter event in the UK, especially the further south you go, but it's still a possibility.  And it's a thousand times better than winter rain, plus it means those short days are beautifully illuminated.  Winter in Sydney is an incredibly drab affair - you've already powered through Christmas and New Year in the height of summer, and in my case, my birthday and all my friends' too, so you arrive at May with nothing to look forward to except October.  "But it's so warm during the days you don't need a jumper!" my fellow European Sydneysiders will say,  As if that is something to write home about.  "Hi family, hope you had a good break - the Christmas markets looked lovely, and wow, Norway is beautiful this time of year!  Personally I am looking forward to winter because I might be able to go without a cardigan for part of the day."

Part of the package of living abroad is a constant cognitive dissonance in terms of your attitude both to your adopted country, and to your homeland.  I am nostalgic for many things about the UK, proud of the British sense of humour and low tolerance for bullshit, but simultaneously shudder with revulsion when I spot British tourists, and will start rattling off a list of reasons Australia is the better country with very little prodding.  I am likely to pit the UK and Australia against each other and whichever I side with is entirely dependent on my mood at the time, and who I'm arguing with.  I honestly don't think that's something that is about to change, for as much as I envision myself staying in Australia for many years to come, it's not going to undo my nationality, especially as I have been told several times that I am "very English".  Which is all to say - I'm not going to stop moaning about the weather.  In fact, with two countries failing to satisfy my demands, I'll likely complain about the weather even more.  How very English.

No comments:

Post a Comment