The general rule of thumb for conversation is: avoid the weather. If small talk has taken a sudden turn into cloud formations, levels of sunniness and air moisture, you know you’re in for a hasty and unpleasant retreat to the conversation exit door.
This is especially true in Gauteng; where the weather is wonderfully monotonous. Afternoon thunderstorms, dusty winters and chilly Autumn mornings: a pretty accurate summary of 12 months of weather talk. Sure there’s the occasional quake (trifling, really – more like the earth is sneezing from all the miners scurrying inside various cavities than anything else) but all in all, there’s not a lot to chat about. If it comes up in a tête-à-tête in Pretoria you know that either something exceptional has happened (somewhere else in the country: “There might be snow in the Drakensburg!”) or that the conversation is on its way out.
But, generally, I’d prepare your mourning clothes and your excuses before you and your conversation partner are both deep in the hard-to-navigate Awkward Zone. I’ve lost many a good friend in the Awkward Zone. It’s a place with few signs and is much, much harder to get out of than to get into: like chocolate cake. Or a rugby match.
However, there is one city in South Africa (that I’ve lived in anyway – Durbanites are welcome to chip in here) where I find the weather constantly worth an incredulous mention. Cape Town, you capricious minx, you. All Capetonians give newbies a knowing nod and say ‘Four seasons in one day’ while the foreigner is holding onto buildings and other people to prevent being blown away by gale force winds.
I hate when people say that to me! ‘Four seasons in one day’ isn’t helpful and isn’t even accurate, dammit. Windy and wet and sunny with a bit more wind isn’t four seasons, it’s just a whole lot of bloody weather elements playing around with my dress sense, umbrella and sanity.
And winter in Cape Town? Oh my gosh. That’s not a very powerful expletive, but the force of a thousand gusts is behind it. Winter in Cape Town is a new level of hell; yet all Capetonians (in their hipster craziness) seem to love it. They love the persistent rain, the dreary cold and the unending blanket of dampness.
However, they are more ambivalent about the wind.
The wind has made strong policemen grab WW1 honorific statues to prevent being blown away, and has made me flash my delicates more than a few times (not on purpose!) while gripping uncomfortably onto a friend while trying – unsuccessfully – to walk to the car. It frequently turns umbrella’s inside out (I remember shouting at Jerusha: turn it toward the wind! and the wind then turns the umbrella back the correct way.) It’s like trying to wade through syrup. Angry syrup.
So for the question: whither the weather is worth a whine? If you’re in Cape Town and it’s winter, hells yeah. Whine like a little bitch!