The Week does what it does rather well – namely, round up seven days’ worth of news and opinion to tell readers what happened, and who said what about it. Those of us who find reading the papers regularly a recipe for misery have discovered it’s a useful way to deftly navigate dinner party chitchat (the knowing smile, the odd name thrown in here and there…) while preserving some of the peace of mind and – dare I say – optimism that help rationalise getting out of bed in the morning. Besides, it makes perfect loo-side reading.

Occasionally, The Week‘s broad insights have the added benefit of exposing the forest for the trees, a perspective we sometimes miss when we only read our favourite paper. And so it was with the 8 August issue, whose cover declared 2009 ‘The summer that never was’ and asked ‘Will we ever trust the Met Office again?’

The Met Office is, of course, the UK’s meteorological service, which delivers the nation’s weather forecasts. And it was the Met Office which – now infamously – promised a summer of sunshine and barbeques, prompting many – it’s now claimed – to opt for a ‘staycation’ rather than taking a holiday abroad.

It was music to our ears, of course. First, who doesn’t want good weather news? And second, those of us who believe in a hazy, karmic, the-meek-shall-inherit-the-earth sort of way that we’re owed big time for last summer’s misery thought we were about to get our just desserts served on a plate with some juicy sausage.  (In case you’ve forgotten, summer ’08 was apparently the coldest and wettest on record.)

As if. What happened was that 10 warm days around Wimbledon which kept our spirits high even when Andy Murray failed to make the finals swiftly degenerated into gray skies, rain, temperatures below 20 degrees, and the occasional hail storm accompanied by gale force winds. Even mornings that started out vaguely sunny inevitably ripped off their latex face masks to expose a bleak landscape worthy of a Hardy novel. At one point, I was sorely tempted to haul out my SAD lamp, but I just couldn’t muster up the energy.

So it came as no surprise when the Met Office came clean a couple of weeks ago. Admittedly, it wasn’t an unequivocal mea culpa but rather a ‘revision’ of the summer forecast to tell us what we’d all figured out in mid-June: the weather is miserable and it’s going to stay that way.

The Week didn’t provide any insights into storm patterns or cold fronts, though. Instead, it rounded up views about how this could possibly have happened to us and in doing so offered up tidy little profiles of a range of English archetypes, seen through the prism of – what else? – the weather. Briefly, they are:

1. ‘We’ve been conned’ There appears to be a suspicion in some quarters that the government sexed up the weather forecast to convince punters to stay home, thereby helping lift the economy out of recession. I first heard this claim aired by BBC Breakfast’s Bill Turnbull. The Week’s source is Victoria Coren writing in The Observer, who says it reflects a general scepticism about any information with bureaucractic authority as its source. Apparently, then, this weather-related dirty tricks campaign is tied to the MPs’ expenses scandal. For me it bears the unmistakable prints of of the right-wing loonies and conspiracy theorists who spend most of the day with their fingers hovering over their computer keyboards, stalking progressives and their views on the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog. They know each others’ CiF handles, and call the country’s ruling party ‘NuLab’. In short, they think they’re clever and incisive. People who remember them from secondary school say they were weird and had no friends.

2. ‘Rain is charming, and more importantly, it’s British’ This theme is generally taken up by the sort of person who compares keeping one’s cool in a traffic jam with the British response to the Blitz. Keep buggering on, said Churchill, and by God we will. What does it matter if the land is emptied of its factories, when it’s filled with something truly, quintessentially British: rain. Of course, this view relies on cheerfully ignoring the whoops of joy that accompany a single ray of sunshine piercing an otherwise steely sky. Treasonous bastards [smile tightens].

3. ‘You’re a chump if you ever believed it’ Few people hold a candle to The Sunday Times‘ loathsome Rod Liddle for bringing the most mean-spirited, unpleasant spin to even the most unremarkable event. The weather is no exception. According to Liddle, you’d have to be a moron to believe a weather forecast – and it follows that by spewing bile on these ingenuous fools, he ain’t one. A hooligan with a pen, Liddle shares a world view with a broad swathe of blokes, many of whom drive London taxis and white vans and keep an eye out for anyone contemptible enough to hesitate in a junction or pause over a map, so they can use the C-word. Again.

And now it’s incumbent on me to acknowledge what you’re surely thinking if you’ve read this far. Eight hundred and fifty words on the bloody weather? How very British.

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