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More fluffy white bits . . .

By Spalding Today Columnist

John Ward (4649152)
John Ward (4649152)

Perhaps it is the weather that causes a lot of problems currently from harsh winds - imported from other countries, it seems if the recent gales or perhaps hurricanes are anything to judge by - to torrential downpours of global warming nee greenhouse effect plus high temperatures that seem to kick in during really hot summer days just to up the ante as it were.

During one of the ‘hot spells’ earlier in the year we had endured, somebody was telling me that he decided to take the family to the Las Vegas of Lincolnshire that is Skegness for the day one Sunday.

Everything was going okay until a couple of miles from Skeggie, when the traffic went into ‘tortoise mode’ as it ground to a halt or down to a snail's pace at best, but he noticed somebody walking into the town along the main A52 as he sat there sweating away in the car, then coming back with a loaded supermarket carrier bag a while later, so he thinks from seeing him originally was about an hour or so, but he had moved roughly about a quarter of a mile in that time. There was, however, some good news - he didn’t hit any potholes during this mind-/bum-numbing experience.

Yes indeedy - that was the summer that was, but the weather these days seems to be so unpredictable, perhaps even a mystery seemingly to weather forecasters.

We are sited or rather living telly reception-wise within three regional, local to us, television stations, plus the national ITV and BBC, it seems that none of them predict the same weather or even close to it - so just what do they use as their information source?

I take the view that it's like going to a see a doctor - if you were not happy with his/her diagnosis, you could ask for a second opinion. However, I gather, in some cases due to cut-backs (plasters are available for this minor calamity - see nurse) they are rather busy, so you make an appointment to see him/her later again later in the day to see if he/she has come to another opinion as its nearly their ‘home time’.

I do tend to watch BBC’s regional outpost that airs about 6.30 of an evening during the week, as the weather output is entertaining at best - as if the supposed forecast as dished out by one presenter does not live up to his forecast or expectation of how its going to be, but when its pointed out by wide awake viewers in the affected/afflicted area afterwards that it didn’t happen as forecast, there is the swift and brutal response through gritted teeth from the same said forecaster who at one time gave live-on-air demonstrations of tie-twiddling while offering forecasts for our future entertainment.

Bearing in mind the millions of pounds allegedly spent on updating their system (?) in recent years or rather we were led to believe this was the case, there seems to be no continuity between them as pointed out although they all (mostly) agree that rain is usually wet, the wind blows and when its warm it's quite hot a lot of the time and so perhaps might be worth all those millions spent on it although the jury is still out on that one - I still say my granddad's bunions were more reliable..

However, 1987 was quite an enlightening time weather-wise, as on one occasion, I do remember watching the early news programme on BBC1 on a certain day (I was home at the time, on holiday) when the legendary rebuttal/ reassurance (?) from the weather forecaster to a viewer who rung the BBC to tell them she had heard that ‘a hurricane was on its way’ - but the weather forecaster reassured the lady, if she was watching, that there were no hurricanes about or due, but rather than an hurricane it was, in fact, perhaps the worst storm in years to hit the entire country, but was not part of that day's forecast.

Later in the day, BBC News reported the fact that Sevenoaks in Kent had been reduced to Oneoak due to this storm (possible apprentice hurricane?) that said viewer had rung to make them aware of, as history now shows that millions of trees etc. were destroyed country-wide, so one can only assume that this lesson has sunk in and hence weather forecasting by ‘those who know’ or we assume they do, is kept down to minimum information or at best quite sketchy ‘just in case’ sort of forecasts, plus the sale of ‘lucky rabbit feet’ and ‘lucky four-leaf clover’ keyrings have remained stable.

With millions spent on assorted software and gadgetry, it should be more precise, rather than as one forecaster put it not so long ago: ‘Just remember your sun cream’ so with hi-tech information at their supposed fingertips and advice like that, could it be we are spoilt? Or are they it playing safe as once again it's ‘just in case’?

My favourite weather forecaster (if there could be such a thing) was the late and in my book, great, Ian McCaskill, who smiled a lot even though his forecasts might or may not have been welcome but I do remember him once pointing at the top of the weather map (crude by today’s hi-tech jobbies) then saying: ‘The white fluffy-looking bits you can see are clouds’. What a star - no silly hi-tech mumbo-jumbo spouted out but ‘the white fluffy bits you can see are clouds’ - no nonsense, no fiddling with his tie, just telling it in a cheerful manner

On a weather-related note, my mum (of the people for the people), years ago suggested a possible theme tune for the weather slot based on the standard song of the then time that was also used for a political party at one point ‘Things can only get better’ but her version was ‘Things can only get wetter’ and wrote to the BBC meteorological dept to point this observation/suggestion out but oddly never received a reply.

She also pointed out that regardless of if they got the forecast wrong on quite a lot of occasions, you never heard of any of them losing their job over it, although in other professions they did, more so if it happened on multiple occasions.

She wondered if the forecasting lot had a sort of set-up whereby they are allowed so many wrong un's out of, say, ten, with two or three being average but she always said that Harry who worked in the local fishmongers should have been a weather forecaster because he could smile a lot most of the time, even while cutting up fish, plus he could manage or be trained to poke a finger at a map on the wall.

But we seem to have slipped into some form of deranged entertainment or to paraphrase the late, great Eric Morecambe: ‘All the right weather elements but not necessarily in the right forecast’. But getting it into perspective nowadays, a lot of folk assume weather forecasting is a sort of audition spot before they clamber away onto ‘Strictly Come Prancing’ or ‘Celebrity Drain Cleaning’ but meanwhile do keep an eye out for ‘those white fluffy bits’ (Nice one, Ian).


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