The editor of a national newspaper once told my wife he believed the weather was better in the mornings than the afternoons, as though the poor old sun got tired out around lunchtime and had to give up the ghost. My wife thought there might be something in this, but then she herself is in thrall to an even odder theory: that the weather in my native county, Yorkshire, is much worse than in London. She has a species of Afghan coat that she only ever wears when we go north, and urges me to wear a scarf whenever I go there, like Pike's mum in Dad's Army.
I've been up three times in this generally dismal summer, and so far the score has been: Yorkshire weather 3, London weather 0. A couple of weeks ago, when I was sailing across the North Yorkshire moors on a Coastliner coach, I could hear the London rain falling when I called home on the mobile. Meanwhile, I had just moved seats in order to escape the glare of the sun. This was an affront to my wife. But she is not alone in her prejudice. In June, I was writing a travel article about York, and my commissioning editor said he wanted to include in the fact box the kind of summer temperatures one might hope for, as if the piece were really about Reykjavik.
I called the Met Office to discuss north-south weather, and got put through to a man who said he could affirm categorically that the weather was terrible in the Orkney Islands. "The number of days of gale up there is substantially . . ." But I cut him off, saying we all know that weather is more inclement in the far north, but what about a place only a relatively little way north of London, such as York? Here, in a nutshell, is his answer: average daily maximum August temperature in London: 21C; average daily maximum August temperature in York: 21C. Average daily maximum December temperature in London: 7C; average daily maximum December temperature in York: 7C.
I told him about my wife's theory, and he said: "Ah, well, you see it's all about how people perceive the weather." Too right. And as for the weather being better in the mornings than the afternoons: "I've worked in the Met Office since 1978, and I've never heard anything of the kind." This is one article of mine that's definitely going up on the kitchen noticeboard.