The English, said Dr Johnson, like to talk about the weather. Here are some useful quotes to chip into the conversation.

"I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish." (God to Noah, Genesis, 6, 17)

"No living man has the right to cut his nails or hair on a ship; that is, unless the wind is blowing a hurricane." (Petronius, AD65)

"but methought it lessened my esteem of a king, that he should not be able to command the rain." (Samuel Pepys, 1662)

"Some are weather-wise, some are otherwise." (Benjamin Franklin, 1735)

"When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather." (Samuel Johnson, 1758)

"The English winter - ending in July, to recommence in August." (Lord Byron, 1824)

"Winter is icummen in,

Lhude sing Goddamm,

Raineth drop and staineth slop,

And how the wind doth ramm!

Sing: Goddamm." (Ezra Pound, 1917)

"It was such a lovely day, I thought it was a pity to get up." (Somerset Maugham, 1923)

"Baby it's cold outside." (Frank Loesser, 1949)

"A hard rain's a gonna fall." (Bob Dylan, 1963)

"A woman rang to say she heard there was a hurricane on the way. Well don't worry, there isn't." (Michael Fish,, 1987)

"The Civil Service is a bit like a rusty weathercock. It moves with opinion then it stays where it is until another wind moves it in a different direction." (Tony Benn, 1995)