Talking about the weather
"Ahh - champion, isn't it?"
"Bit of cloud coming in overnight, they say."
"You wouldn't think it was May, would you?"
Is there anything more British than talking about the weather? Aside from, perhaps, standing in a red telephone box sporting a bowler hat, munching on a cream tea and talking to Stephen Fry about the weather.
When journalists and commentators talk about 'our national conversation,' they're generally referring to some political issue or the other. But they know nothing. Our national conversation is the weather. What else would you expect from a nation that was built on farming and seafaring? Deep in our genes we're well aware that 'the weather' - for our ancestors - was much more than a topic that one raises slightly awkwardly with the other person at the bus stop. The weather was a matter of life and death.
This is why, should you be required to start some sort of idle conversation with a total stranger - perhaps whilst exercising your dog, or milling with the other parents in the playground - the topic of the weather must be your first port of call. Perhaps your only port of call. The weather is a safe bet; a universal gateway into discourse. Any other conversational gambit is likely to find you labelled eccentric at best, a dangerous weirdo at worst. If it is hot, point out that it is hot. If it is raining, discuss the fact that it is raining. If the weather is unusual for the time of year then this fact will gift you several sentences of potential chit-chat.
Inducting an abstract concept such as 'weather conversation' into the Best of British Hall of Fame comes with its practical difficulties. Perhaps there should be some form of 'UK Talking About The Weather Championships' in order that we might find a suitable representative to accept our accolade. Until then, 'turned out nice again!' and the like will take their proud place in the Best of British question cards.
And they say the weekend's going to be even better.