As it’s my birthday this week and I’ve neglected this blog since the outset of the pandemic last year I thought I’d write a post on a certain annual meteorological phenomenon I’ve come to notice over the years and which I point out to my friends every September: it never rains on my birthday celebrations, and hasn't done for as long as I can remember.
It is always warm, always dry. And this week’s outlandish late heatwave just takes the biscuit. Not so much an Indian summer as not far off what it would actually be like in parts of the Indian subcontinent in their actual summer – 29 degrees in my town tomorrow!
Don’t get me wrong: Indian summers are always welcome, just when you routinely think that our ‘hot’ season’s whimpering out to a close again. But that’s the thing though – that’s what people always think, just as some female colleagues I had a work Zoom call with last week did, complaining that their homes were suddenly too chilly to work in, gotta put the heating on again for the first time since April, etc, to which I had to point out as I do every year – it always gets hot and dry again in September! Why don't people ever remember this?
I’ll tell you why – because you’re less likely to remember unless you celebrate your birthday or other major life anniversary around this time. I’ve gone deeper this year though: I’ve actually sought out and studied the meteorological data for September for the last 12 years, as far back as I could go within the records I sourced, and it’s true – there was only one patch of drizzle one year in my area, although it must have passed my town by because I never saw any of it!
I’m no weather or climate expert but this has to be the same reason why it so often rains at Glastonbury Festival, which always falls on or close to the summer equinox – there’s just some barometric phenomenon about that time of year in that part of southwest England that heightens the chances of precipitation raining on whatever parade is taking place, not least the big one at Worthy Farm.
I went to Glastonbury five times between 2004 and 2010 and it only ever not-rained for one those weekends, which incidentally was even harder to handle: I’d take the Battle of the Somme conditions over unbroken shadeless heatwave any time.
So, my hypothesis is that whatever the time-and-region-specific climatic pattern is that customarily brings wetness to Glasto has to be the same that brings glorious dry balminess to my birthday bit of September every year without fail. I just wish I had the expertise to know or explain it. Any weatherman or woman who happens to be reading this - feel free to drop a line in the comments below if there is potentially some substance to this postulate, or even on the other hand if you feel it's a load of conjecture-filled garbage.
What I will say though, on a more solemn note, is that these late Indian summer swansongs have become noticeably warmer in recent years. Back in my teenage years almost 30 years ago, it was definitely more of an autumnal feel – cooler, fresher air but still hazily sunny – another reason why autumn remains my favourite season. But it’s telling that this year that early forewarner of autumn last week has been toasted into oblivion by this aberrant heatwave, complete with uncomfortable close nights and, for me anyway, rubbish sleep.
Either way I will be back with the same crew in the same London park as last year for al-fresco beers and frolics, and reminding people to bring a jacket cos it does still get a bit chilly once the sun has properly sunk.
However I still await some form of rainfall to afflict my birthday after 30+ years and until then will continue to count my blessings that the big day lands in this annual sweet spot, as opposed to unluckier folk like my sister (January) and late dad (Feb).
Will report back with a postscript this time next year, and probably every September after that.