The outlook: gloomy with some dry humour

Miles Kington
Tuesday 23 April 1996 23:02

Today - an in-depth look at why we are having the driest winter since records began, courtesy of our resident expert, Mr Weatherman.

Is this in fact the driest winter since records began?

Mr Weatherman writes: Not yet.

What do you mean, not yet?

Well, winter hasn't ended yet.

When does winter end?

When summer begins.

When's that?

When we feel like it.

When's that?

When we start opening the windows and taking our cardigans off.

That's not very scientific, is it?

I'm a weather forecaster, not a scientist. What made you think there was anything scientific about weather forecasting?

Well, it's one of the sciences, isn't it? Meteorology? One of the -ologies?

Oh, sure, yes, meteorology, yes. Meteors we're very hot on. Ask me anything about meteors and I'm your man. Weather is another matter.

Then how accurate are you when it comes to weather?

Very accurate indeed. 100 per cent accurate.

In your forecasts?

No. In saying what has already happened today, or yesteryear. You'll notice that weather forecasters are at their happiest when starting a report with words like, "Well, today has been wet throughout Britain, although temperatures were again quite high, with the best being recorded at Skegness and blah blah blah". Not much danger of getting the weather wrong if you look backwards. That's why we love being asked if this is the driest winter on record.

Is this in fact the driest winter on record?

So far, yes.

What do you hate being asked?

We hate being asked what the weather's going to do tomorrow.


Because we often get it wrong.

So why do people go on asking you, if you get it wrong?

Because people have a short memory span. They forget what the forecast was. Last week, there was one day when all the forecasts said it was going to be gloomy and wet. In fact, it was the hottest and sunniest day for weeks because the rain didn't arrive till the evening. Of course, we didn't admit this. We just said in the evening forecasts, "Well, the rain is going to continue till tomorrow ..." and not one person rang up to say, "You lying blagskites! It hasn't started yet!"

Why didn't they ring up?

Nobody minds if we forecast bad weather and it turns out good. It's the other way round that they mind - when we forecast sun and it piddles down all day.

Then wouldn't it make sense to forecast bad weather whenever you are in doubt?

Oh, we do. We ALWAYS forecast that things are going to be worse than we think they really will be. That way, either we are right, or we get it pleasantly wrong.

You always give us pessimistic forecasts?

Certainly. Hadn't you noticed?


Good. The trick is working, then.

So, is this the driest winter so far?

Certainly, since cylinders began.

What about records?

I think you'll find that cylinders came before records.

If the rain isn't falling here, is it falling somewhere else? Is somewhere else having the wettest winter since cylinders began?



I haven't the faintest idea. Weathermen in Britain are only paid to know about the weather in the UK and in places where we go on hols.

Is that why the British weather map pretends that Ireland doesn't even exist? And why Northern Ireland seems to be the whole of Ireland?

Mr Weatherman writes: Yes. Weatherwise, only Northern Ireland exists.

When they show the weather map on Irish TV, do they show ONLY the Republic and not the Six Counties?

No. In Dublin they give the forecast for Northern Ireland as well.


Because the Pope asks them to.

Why does the Pope ask them to?

To annoy Ian Paisley.

Is there any truth in that?

I have no idea. I am not interested in the truth. I am a weatherman. I am trained to ignore the truth and deal in probabilities delivered with a sickening smile, without knocking the symbols off the chart.

So, WHY is this the driest winter on record?

I thought you'd never ask. And now we've run out of space.

The answer tomorrow!

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