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Enjoy & Learn

The Bright Side of Life

“How’s the weather there?” Britons’ reputation for being obsessed with the weather is somewhat justified. It’s almost inevitable that when I phone someone in the UK they’ll ask me about the weather. However, when it’s hot they don’t usually have the chance, I tell them first! British people love to hear that you’re somewhere hot and make a fuss about how jealous they are. The fact that it’s hot and I’m in Poland is doubly rewarding because everyone in Britain seems to think that Poland enjoys the same climate as the North Pole.

Which is partly why I’m so happy that I’m in Poland and the summer is coming. While Poles may be complaining that it is “too hot”, I’ll be quietly and, no doubt uncomfortably, sweating behind a large, smug smile. In Britain, the only justifiable reason for saying the weather is “too hot” is if you’re holidaying on the surface of the sun, otherwise, in a country blighted by rain and clouds, it just sounds plain ungrateful.

In fact, any extreme of temperature is an occasion to be celebrated in Britain. In lieu of religious holidays (Britain has three public holidays less per year than Poland) we celebrate unofficial ‘weather days’. In the winter, this means that if a single snow flake falls everyone assumes that cars and all public transport cease to function and you can either take the day off or turn up late, in which case you can then spend the rest of the day down the park making rude snow sculptures and having snowball fights. However, it’s when the sun comes out that our nation of sun worshippers really shun work, demonstrating their faith by taking a long lunch at the pub and by finishing early to go and sit outside (the pub). Sunburnt necks and convertibles are the overt symbols of the truly pious. So even if your skin blisters, your neck turns a painful shade of red and you develop heat rash and dehydration, you dutifully head down to the park, wearing as little as possible and stubbornly refuse to use sun cream. There can’t be many nations in the world where being sunburnt is an enviable state. It is a testament to British zeal for the sun that, despite being completely impractical 364 days a year, demand for convertibles is higher than anywhere else in Europe and three times as many are sold each year in Britain than either France or Italy!

Apparently, a language’s vocabulary grows to suit its needs so it’s hardly surprising that the British vocabulary is so rich in words and expressions connected with rain. If it’s raining ‘lightly’ you can say that it’s ‘spitting’, a bit heavier but fine and you might say it’s ‘drizzling’, if it was light and finishes quickly it was a ‘shower’ whereas if it was brief but heavy it was a ‘downpour’ and if it’s really torrential you might describe it as ‘pouring’, ‘bucketing’, ‘tipping/chucking it down’, you might say that, ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ or just resort to one of numerous expletives. We also have a wealth of idioms, some more pertinent than others: ‘saving up for a rainy day’ used to be common practice. Nowadays Britons don’t save, they spend: we are the only nation in Europe to have more credit cards than people!

After all I’ve said you’d think that, as a Briton living in a country with delightfully warm summers, I should be happy, but I have one major complaint: the mosquitoes. In fact, it’s very much a love/hate relationship: they love me, I hate them! I could be standing in a crowd of millions and if there is a mosquito within a 5-mile radius (sorry, 8.046 km), I can be certain it will bite me. Apparently it’s a fate all Britons suffer–it seems that after Polish blood for breakfast, lunch and evening meal mosquitoes can’t wait to ‘eat out’ at a foreign restaurant–we’re the dinner of choice for the discerning mosquito. I’m not averse to them taking a few drops of blood, it’s the itchy lumps they leave behind that drive me into a vengeful frenzy. I was bitten on the forehead last year and it looked as if I’d had a golf ball surgically inserted or as if I were about to sprout a horn! After that I take no prisoners and give no quarter.

However, every cloud has a silver lining: I’ve heard that mosquitoes don’t like vodka, so this year I’ve got a great excuse to drink much more!

James Anderson-Hanney


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justified uzasadniony
doubly rewarding podwójnie satysfakcjonujące
smug błogi, zadowolony z siebie
blighted nawiedzany przez
plain ungrateful tu: zwykła niewdzięczność
In lieu of instead of
cease przestać
worshipper czciciel, wielbiciel
shun unikać, stronić od
convertible kabriolet
overt otwarty, nieskrywany
pious pobożny
blister pokryć się bąblami
heat rash potówki
dehydration odwodnienie
dutifully obowiązkowo, posłusznie
enviable godny pozazdroszczenia
zeal zapał, gorliwość
demand for popyt na
torrential ulewny, gwałtowny (o deszczu)
resort to uciec się do
expletive przekleństwo
pertinent trafny, stosowny, słuszny
radius promień
discerning wytrawny, znający się na rzeczy
be averse to mieć coś przeciwko
itchy swędzący
vengeful mściwy
sprout kiełkować, wyrastać
give no quarter być bezlitosnym
every cloud has a silver lining proverb which means that after difficulties come the possibilities get better
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