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Meteorological matters: Peter Sherwood whines whatever the weather

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Peter Sherwood whines whatever the weather because that is his wont. But at least he keeps it interesting.

I want to talk about the weather. Not really, but everyone else does, so I feel compelled. It’s a topic infinitely varied unless you live in steamy Singapore where things meteorological are as tedious as the pedantic city state itself. In Hong Kong we at least get cool days when winter gear for northern Norway, reeking of mothballs, emerges from dank closets. We never discuss a few degrees here or there. We bellyache, which is as effective as an Indian rain dance. Hey, try life in Aomori, Japan, the snowiest place on earth with nearly 10 metres a year.

The daily pollution level, wholly man-made, is now an integral part of the ‘natural’ climate cycle. We’re made to feel (like some geniuses in the US Congress, where the second law of thermodynamics is a childish prank) that the impending climate catastrophe is a hoax. Any anthropomorphic connection is the conspiratorial work of hysterical Hollywood and fake news (a cute new social-media term for old-fashioned propaganda and outrageous lies).

In a torrential downpour, I’ll remark that it’s raining. You can respond that it isn’t, and that the water now rising rapidly above our knees is only an H2O event of unknown origin. Today that’s perfectly acceptable.

Here comes the rain again

Any comment on the elements should at least be interesting, which brings me to cheery Cherrapunji in northern India where, if you wash your sari, you need to send it south by train to dry. Cherrapunji holds the world record 48-hour rainfall, with a whopping monsoonal 2.5 metres (that’s 2,493 millimetres, or 98.15 inches) of rain in June 1995. Residents wish they lived in western Rajasthan where they receive an average annual splash of only 0.31 metres – and from the same monsoon. For most of the year, shrivelled residents of the Thar Desert yearn for the sodden hills of Cherrapunji – and vice versa.

Cherrapunji people might call their town pretty damp. They are entitled to their opinion. The permanently drenched of nearby muddy Mawsynram would say, ‘Hey, that’s nothin’. We cop an average of around 12 metres a year and in 1985 recorded 26 metres – enough to fill 50,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, or the average bathtub 27.6 million times.’

Compare that (if you must, it’s your time and money) to McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica that gets zero.

I once heard from a mountain guide (staring at my hideously blue, shivering and embarrassed self) that there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. He went on condescendingly to say that weather is like gravity in as much as it is ever present. But unlike gravity, it can change – fast. Up in the clouds I was reluctantly forced to admit he was right.

In Hong Kong, weather is easily handled by a cheap (preferably yellow) umbrella – apart from on the frigidly air-conditioned ferry, where you need thermal underwear and a hooded polar jacket. I’m not complaining. Any weather is better than none.

Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 20 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.


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