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The weather here in Canada is unpredictable. It is entirely possible to have winters where the temperature plunges to 40 below zero and summers where the temperature climbs to 40 degrees above. At least that’s here in Ontario. In British Columbia I hear their winter weather is very much like England i.e. rain, fog, rain, fog, with a little bit of sleety rain and a smattering of snow thrown in for a bit of variety – except in the north of England of course where the wind and snow howl around your willikers so furiously that it’s quite possible to freeze off some precious bits before you know it and where the cows all lie dormant in snowdrifts ten feet deep until Spring. In England the main topic of conversation is the weather. “Nice weather we’re having don’t you think”, “Oh yes but there’s flooding on the way you just mark my words. Of course it’s all the fault of the bloody asylum seekers and Tony Blair don’t you know?”

 

When I was a kid my old Auntie Doris [not the one who used to dance on the table and show off her knickers to Spanish waiters in Malaga, that was Auntie Cissie], used to blame all the bad weather we were having on “That there H-Bomb.” I used to laugh but in retrospect it’s possible that she might have had a point since we now know that we have been screwing up the Earth’s atmosphere and destroying the ozone layer for decades. It at least makes more sense than her warning that if I didn’t stop swallowing my gum it would wrap itself around my liver and kill me.

 

In Canada, unlike England, we never just have a grey day with the fine mist that the Brits call ‘drizzle’. Drizzle seeps down your collar and flattens your hair in clumps to your scalp and grows mold on your socks. No, when we Canadians have rain, we have rain! I have seen torrential downpours, sometimes accompanied by hail the size of golf balls, so violent that you can’t see across the street and thunderstorms so terrifying that you might as well be at the Battle of Tobruk and the only safe option is running down to the basement and hiding under the coffee table with a cushion on your head. Fortunately we don’t have too many tornados but we do get the odd ground tremor, situated as we are on one of the active fault zones along the St. Laurence Valley. I was once asleep in my water bed – ok ok it was the seventies alright – when the whole thing shook like Jello in a blender. I was halfway down the street in my jammies before I realized that I wasn’t in some scene from “Earthquake”.

 

We did have a tornado once in a small town not far from Toronto called Barrie and another in a small town called Woodstock. Obviously living in small towns, especially ones with trailer parks, can be detrimental to your health – and your belongings. When she was a child a friend of mine was driving with her family in the car when a tornado charged down on them without warning and left them all hanging upside down from their seatbelts in a ditch. And I was once driving down a country road when a bolt of lightening hit a tree with such an unearthly and ear shattering BANG that I hit my head on the roof and snorted my Coke [not that kind of Coke]. Of course that was less exciting than seeing a flaming meteor suddenly appear out of a deep black sky, whiz over me with a hiss and disappear in a green glow into a farmer’s field. Either that or someone had just evacuated the toilet tank on a 747 on its way to Iowa.

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