Malcontent… on People who complain about the weather


The weather is terrible, I know. It’s the wettest summer since JFK’s assassination/the Norman invasion/the extinction of the dinosaurs, it’s true. The irony of only having brought your summer clothes back up to Oxford with you has transcended ‘mildly amusing’ and reached ‘rage-inducingly ludicrous’. Yes, I know. We all do. And that’s the problem. The rain may be annoying, but far more so is the Oxford-wide obsession with complaining about this, repeatedly, to everyone one encounters. Yes, dear friends, this is a meta-complaint.

It’s common knowledge that the British like to talk about the weather. And up to a point – as an ice-breaker with a stranger, say – this is no bad thing. However, when every single conversation, be it with friend, acquaintance or tutor, is turned to complaint about the interminable rain, this tendency has gone too far. Of course it’s raining. You live in Britain; you’ve had eighteen plus years to get used to the weather. If you didn’t want your summers to resemble a biblical apocalypse, you should have applied to study abroad somewhere with a more pleasant climate. France. Spain. Mordor.

While it’s certainly unpleasant when a simple trip to a lecture leaves you completely soaked through, the all-pervasive dampness is made infinitely worse by the clunking observations of those lucky enough to live closer to the faculty. “Gosh, you’re wet. Awful weather, isn’t it?” Indeed it is: we have observed this strange phenomenon first hand. This terribly British penchant for stating the obvious becomes considerably more exasperating when one is attempting to study for prelims – or, God forbid – finals. It’s already upsetting enough to be suffering crises over one’s academic future as the rain beats down outside. By stripping away the examinee’s last bastion of defence – denial – the casual weather commentator runs the risk of tipping them into total existential collapse.

There is, fortunately, a very simple solution to this state of affairs. Complaining about the weather may be a classic British habit, but so is the stiff upper lip and the stoic silence. And shutting up has its advantages: not only will you avoid triggering suicidal mania in passing finalists, but you may even discover that you and your friends have other things to talk about.