Monday, 25 June 2012

The Fahrenheit of Stupidity

Do you find English weather reports demoralizing?  I used to think that the weather was the great cultural Rosetta stone: every country has it, and most people feel the need to discuss it.  That goes twice for the British, of course.  Even in an English-speaking country, there are days that confirm you just aren't getting it.  Those days have highs and lows predicted in Celsius.

I remember spending a particularly confusing hour in John Lewis, trying to make myself understood while returning a faulty kettle,  It was early days, and I was still pronouncing the darned thing "keddle."  Granted, I was aided by the humanity of the situation in my newfound environs: a faulty kettle means a halt to all tea production, which certainly constitutes an emergency in the UK.  Later that evening, I needed affirmation that I could indeed function in the greater English society when a bird-like presenter in a sleeveless shift dress had the nerve to warn me of short, sharp showers with a high of 18.  I began to think my high was indeed at 18, with a decline ever since.  Speaking only Fahrenheit was making me miserable on my own sofa, not to mention chronically inappropriately dressed.  I needed to take control of my happiness and learn to convert to Celsius in my head.  Britons of an older generation speak both C and F, but the country moved on with the rest of the world to Celsius in the middle of the last century.  The US, along with the Cayman Islands and Belize, still clings to the German method of being hotsy-totsy.  (Ironically, there's not much call for British Thermal Units in Britain anymore, either.)

Knowing there is limited room left on the hard drive, I decided to learn the most pertinent temperatures for my new climate.  While not scientific, the following helped me avoid becoming schizophrenic:

10 C = 50 F
15 C = 59 F
20 C = 68 F
and so on, with ever rise of 5 C = a rise of 9 F
28 C = 82 F
37 C = 98.6 F

Take the ten minutes to commit these to memory.  No one wants you to be extra tweedy on a warm day, especially if you have to take the Underground.