OPINION - Miserable June: I don't believe it but this bleak weather has me reaching for my gilet

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, astrogeologists (that is, people who study planetary geology, not the grifters who ask for your star sign and suggest that while you might feel overwhelmed, now is a good time to address the big picture stuff in your life) hypothesise that a young Earth collided with a Mars-sized planet called Theia.

This gave rise a couple of things. First, the Moon, and second, our planet’s 23.5 degree tilt, thanks to which we experience the four seasons. Or to be precise, other countries do. Britain, despite what the Gregorian calendar alleges, is trapped in an endless November. As if the weather gods decided we would get an autumn election after all — it just so happens to be at the height of summer.

I suppose Britons ought not to complain. Our latitude (London is further north than Calgary and indeed any US state other than Alaska) makes our mild winters something of an underappreciated blessing, at least until the Atlantic Gulf Stream packs in. But it is unwise to expect people be grateful for things not being even worse than they might have been — just ask Joe Biden.

In the UK, winter is cold and grey. Spring is mild and grey. Summer is warm and grey. Autumn… you get the picture

Still, this is more than a matter of simple unfairness. The seasons are critical to how we understand time itself. In the UK, winter is cold and grey. Spring is mild and grey. Summer is warm and grey. Autumn… you get the picture. Except this year my gilet, far from being unceremoniously dumped in the back of my wardrobe sometime around late April, remains carefully hung near the front door. We may never be parted this year.

I don’t claim that Britain — never far from suffering a nasty bout of main character syndrome — has it worse than others. Indeed, plenty of nations are forced to tolerate actual climactic events and natural disasters, from landslides to typhoons.

But a deal’s a deal. We put up with 3.30pm sun-less sunsets and endless drizzle for those two or three months when it seems as if the sky never quite turns black. We don’t ask for more. We’ve come to terms with the perma-dullness of September to May, and what the author Bill Bryson calls “a land without shadows” before charmingly comparing it to living “inside Tupperware”.

Why is this happening? Meteorologists point to the jet stream being in the wrong place and forecast things won’t improve at all this month, but to be honest I emotionally checked out when the Met Office’s friendly looking but doom-mongering Simon Partridge warned of frost. Get in the sea.

What do the parties’ manifestos have to say on the crisis? Presumably, Sir Keir Starmer is promising no additional winter for working people, paid for by removing tax breaks on private schools. Rishi Sunak has been caught leaving a rare sunny picnic early to go inside to his spreadsheets, while Sir Ed Davey doesn’t care — he’s having a whale of a time regardless of the weather.

Before this appears on some climate-denial Reddit thread, let me state for the record that carbon dioxide traps heat, and that by burning fossil fuels, humans have been effectively taking millions of years of carbon uptake from plants and pumped into the atmosphere in less than 300. This is more troubling than an unusually chilly June. But humans are hard-wired to respond to immediate problems, not the other stuff. If this is one big marshmallow test, let me fail. I just want to feel the sun on my neck.

Forget the Tories and Labour, put Wimbledon in charge of the country

With widespread public antipathy towards the Tories and something of a collective sigh directed at Labour, am I the only one who thinks the country would be better run if we put Wimbledon in charge?

We’d certainly be richer. This week, the All-England Club announced record-breaking (or in journalese, “inflation-busting”) prize money, up 11.9 per cent on the year before and breaching the £50 million barrier for the first time.

Or if you just want a government that can plan further ahead than the following day’s media round, recall that even in 2020, the year of no championships thanks to Covid-19, the tournament still managed to hand £10 million to the players, thanks to their pandemic insurance.

Such a cabinet would need a media-friendly public face, so that’s Tim Henman as prime minister, perhaps Serena Williams as chancellor and of course Novak Djokovic leading the vaccines taskforce.

Jack Kessler is chief leader writer and author of the West End Final newsletter