January 27, 2011

Measuring Up; Or, Analogies of Weather

Clearly I pricked your interest with the story of the phallus, which is no fallacy mind you. I suppose it could be considered odd that a platform erected for the discussion of manliness has not before measured up the nether man, save to talk of trousers. Well, decency typically forbids, but where there is an intellectual point to pursue, we cannot help but to give it thrust. I hope my readers of a more sensitive disposition will by now have forgiven me. I shall try not to penalise you further. For a while anyway.

Being the awkward English fellow that I am, it would be usual to start a conversation about the weather after unwittingly taking the discourse into sensitive areas. What could be safer, after all? Funnily enough, and contrary to the answer to my rhetorical question, I’ve noticed that men compete for the weather, as if they take ownership of their own climates. You perhaps won’t notice this unless you travel, but take my word for it. Wherever you go, men will claim their weather to be better, worse, more interesting, or more boring than yours, and in some bizarre way this serves to make them hardier, more resolute, than you. I will own to having done this, albeit unconsciously at the time. The conversation in winter might go like this:

Berliner:          ‘It’s so damn cold here!’
Montrealer:      ‘Cold? You don’t know cold. I remember when it was minus 50 Celsius and my face froze off’.
Berliner:          ‘Yes, but isn’t it a dry cold in Montreal? Here the humidity cuts you like a knife. It feels colder.’
Londoner:       ‘Damp? You don’t know the meaning. When it’s plus one Celsius in London it feels like minus twenty. And the wind. It does blow’.
Yorkshireman: ‘Shurrup you daft Southern pillock. You dunt know the meanin’ o’ the word cold. Yer just thin skinned. When I were a lad nobody bothered wi’ heating and nobody wore a coat. You just braced yerself and gorron wit work’.
Berliner:          ‘But when the wind blows from Siberia…’
Siberian:          ‘Ahem!’

In short, men (and women too, but I suspect their motives to be different) seem to compete for ownership of the worst conditions. The worse things are, the more hardy the man. The more he can endure, the more worthy he is. Isn’t this true of most things with men? I see no reason why it should be any different for meteorology. It might be considered to be all rather sad and pathetic, but as I’ve said many a time in these pages, the threads of civilisation are tenuous, and through such displacements we are able to rise above our inner animal. Next time you compete over the weather, just be glad you aren’t actually trying to kill one another.


  1. Doctor, men may boast of their endurance overmuch; but that doesn't mean they're wrong about the importance of endurance; quite the opposite. Surely, endurance is one of the better things to boast about - in fact, it might be the sort of thing that does not lead to killing. If men could live without competition and boast, that would change everything. But do you think they can?

  2. Men cannot live without competition. Boasting I would switch for magnanimity. Endurance might indeed be something to be pleased to have, but in our Western worlds the weather does not present a severe challenge to most (pace New York City).

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  4. That first sentence is an absolute gem!


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