What's the weather got to do with British phlegmatism?

Whatever the temperature, being phlegmatic is usually the order of the day in Britain; very much a unifying defining characteristic that will persist for generations

Share
Related Topics

Let’s talk about the weather. Like television, it’s something that receives relatively little space in i compared with the the outside world. Some of you may even be former Daily Express readers, and must be experiencing symptoms akin to going cold turkey.

The weather in itself I don’t find too fascinating, largely because there’s really not too much any of us can do about it – except perhaps not get out of the car the exact moment that the flash storm broke on Saturday. I guess on Sunday we could have declined to drive an hour and a half in the pouring rain in order to stand courtside for a morning in more pouring rain and wind at the regional heats of the national schools netball finals at the aptly-named Rainham, Kent. But, if they can play in it, we can watch them play in it.

However, in the end, they could no longer continue, as the courts flooded and the play resembled Dancing on Ice. We were three hours in by then and were halfway through the programme. What was fascinating was how the massed parents from every type of school from all over the South-east dealt with it.

Was there uproar at the initial decision to play on slimy courts? Were there frantic calls for the event to be scrapped as our daughters were slip-sliding about? Was there outrage that it was then postponed belatedly? There was none of the above. Of course.

Instead, on Sunday morning there were some traditional British attributes on display: magnanimous sharing of hot beverages, food, umbrellas and rainwear, stoicism when confronted with truly miserable conditions, black humour in the face of adversity, and a phlegmatic acceptance that this was just the way it was, both when the mighty netball authorities deemed the courts fit to play, and subsequently  deemed them unfit.

As I surveyed my fellow sodden parents and the poor school sports teacher sods desperately seeking shelter, I got to wondering whether these qualities were good ones or not. There’s zero doubt in my mind that these were all good people making the most of a bad situation, but should we all have kicked up more of a fuss?

If this was Italy you and I know there would have been a furore bordering on hysteria. Curses, religious and otherwise, would have been expended amid much gesticulation, both wild and subtle. Of course the coffee would have been better, but would the end result have been different?

Much hot air was expended after the death of Princess Diana about how we British had lost both our ability to remain phlegmatic and our world-renowned reserve. To me, these are two very different things.

If Britain is indeed losing its reserve then that’s for the better, it will make for a warmer, more upfront society, but phlegmatism? It’s still the order of the day; very much a unifying defining characteristic that will persist for generations.

For the record, not one teenage girl complained about the conditions at all. Which is exactly as you would expect. But, God, I wish it would stop raining.

Stefano Hatfield is editorial director of London Live

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little