In this blogposting...
*Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know About The Weather
*I Never Knew There Was A Word For It
Now - onward and upward...
...will take place at 1100 on Thursday 16 September. Elsewhere, I’ve suggested we might hook up at the Laing or the Theatre Royal, but if you have any more exotic venues in mind, please get in touch.
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE WEATHER
While I was in the Lake District recently, I heard the oft-quoted axiom about the weather there: if you don’t like it, wait five minutes or drive five miles. I decided to put the theory to the test when it began to pour with rain in Keswick. We drove south and, by the time we’d reached Grasmere, the sun was beating down and we felt very silly indeed in our sou'westers and galoshes.
Later that same afternoon, we experienced a phenomenon which, judging by Serge’s reaction, is unheard-of in France: we were drenched by a downpour that seemed to be coming from a clear, cloudless, sky.
Under these circumstances, ‘changeable’ seems to me to be a wholly inadequate way of describing our weather. I prefer to think of it as a kind of mixture of ‘mischievous’ and ‘contrary’. Serge’s utter bafflement at our weather’s sheer unpredictability, and his amazement that we manage to cope with it - and even to quite like it, as I do - has inspired me to dig around a little for weather-related facts and incidents appropriate to this time of year.
This is what I’ve come up with….
*The average minimum temperature on 9 September is 10.1C; the average maximum is 18.4C (although it reached an all-time high, for this date, of 32.2C at Geldeston in Norfolk in 1898).
*A mighty gale struck Britain on 9 September 1658. While it was raging, a Lincolnshire schoolboy amused himself by trying to calculate its force. First, he jumped with the wind, then directly against it. After measuring the length of each leap, and comparing it with the distance he could jump in perfectly still weather, he rated the force of the storm in feet. He later said that it was one of his first-ever scientific experiments. His name was Isaac Newton.
*In an average year, the first sloes can be picked on 9 September, although country lore dictates that you should wait until the first frosts (which occur, on average, on 25 October) if you want to make good sloe gin. And who doesn't?
*On 11 September 1800 William Pitt’s government banned the distillation of spirits and the powdering of wigs with flour. They did this because it had rained continuously since 19 August and, after drought in July and severe hailstorms in early August, the harvest was completely ruined.
There were Bread Riots in the streets and the military were called out.
The famine soon had international consequences. Most of Britain’s imported grain came from the Baltic states, which Tsar Nicholas of Russia promptly blockaded. In the following Spring, Vice-Admiral Nelson was sent to break the blockade and did so at the Battle of Copenhagen, having famously put his telescope to his blind eye.
And all this because of a wet summer….
*In 1919, autumn shrank to just nine days. At Raunds, in Northamptonshire, 11 September was the hottest day of the year, at 32.2C. On 21 September, snow fell in Wales, Scotland and northern England
From The Guardian, 8 August…
The annual sauna world championship in Finland has been called off after a Russian man died after spending six minutes enduring a temperature of 110C.
Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy was pronounced dead after being dragged from the sauna by judges. Police were investigating the cause of death.
Another competitor, Timo Kaukonen from Finland, was also pulled out and is being treated in hospital for burns. Officials said the competition will not run again.
This was the 12th world sauna championships, where competitors try to outlast others in the heat and steam. The event has been held in Heinola, 86 miles north-east of Helsinki, since 1999.
Ladyzhenskiy and Kaukonen had made it through to the final ahead of more than 130 other participants, but six minutes into the contest, judges noticed something was wrong with the Russian, and dragged both competitors from the sauna.
Both middle-aged men were seen to have severe burns on their bodies and were given first aid after they collapsed.
Ossi Arvela, head of the championships, said the event had been immediately suspended following the incident, and confirmed police were investigating.
"All the rules were followed and enough first aid personnel were in place," Arvela said in a statement, adding that all the competitors had been required to present a doctor's certificate before taking part.
Saija Jäppinen, cultural secretary at Heinola City Council, later announced the end of the event. "After this incident we decided that this game is over and done," she said.
Rules in the competition require the sauna to be heated to 110 C (230 F). Water is added to the stove every 30 seconds and the last person to remain in the sauna wins.
Competitors must verify their condition by giving a thumbs up to judges when asked, and be able to leave the sauna unaided.
Kaukonen is a five-time winner of the event and reigning champion, while Ladyzhenskiy is believed to have come third in last year's contest.
Every single one of them are candidates for the Darwin Awards, don’t you think?
‘I NEVER KNEW THERE WAS A WORD FOR IT’
A Dutchman once told me that they have a word meaning ‘to walk along the clifftops in a high wind’. I’ve never found out what that word is, but a lovely book called I Never Knew There Was A Word For It lists many words and expressions in foreign languages for which there is no one-word English translation. Such as….
*gurfa (Arabic) - the amount of water scooped up in one hand
*kontal-kontil (Malay) - the way long ear-rings swing when you walk
*ho’oponopono (Hawaiian) - solving a problem by talking it out
*cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish) - a man who wears his shirt-tail outside his trousers
*pesamenteiro (Portuguese) - someone who joins a funeral in order to partake of the refreshments afterwards
*faire une queue de poisson (French) - to overtake then cut in close in front of a car (‘to do a fishtail’)
*gattara (Italian) - a woman who devotes herself to stray cats
*resfeber (Swedish) - to be jittery before a journey
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