MORE ABOUT THE ENGLISH
Like any other country Britain has its manners and customs as well as reputation.
Foreigners often say that in English trains people never speak to each other. But this, of course, is not true.
Not long ago I was travelling to London. In my compartment there were many passengers and they talked to each other almost all the time. They told each other where they lived, where they were going and, of course, talked about the weather. As soon as the train started a little girl, sitting by the window, called out: “We’re off!” I found out that she was going to her aunt’s in Chiswick. “It’s somewhere near the Thames but I don’t know exactly where… Shall we be passing anywhere near it?” “Chiswick? That’s easy to find. You can get to it on the Tube. I’ll show you where to go when we arrive,” I told her.
“Goodness, how fast the train is going!” said an old lady.
“Do they go so fast in foggy weather and at night?” Her neighbour smiled, took out a book and began to read. Here was a typical Englishman: during the whole journey he did not say a single word. But as we arrived in London, he got up, and turning to the lady he said with a strong accent: “Excuse me. I do not understand English. I am from Poland.”
The English people often say something about the weather when they begin a conversation with strangers. In fact, people talk about the weather more in Britain than in most parts of the world. For one thing, the weather in Britain changes very quickly. One day may be fine and the next day may be wet. When you go to bed the stars may be shining brightly and when you wake up it may be raining heavily. You can never be quite sure what the weather is going to be like. The English often say “Other countries have a climate, in England we have weather.” For another thing, the weather is a safe topic for conversation. When two Englishmen meet, if they can’t think of anything else to talk about or if they don’t know each other well enough to discuss personal matters, they talk about the weather.
If it’s nice and warm and the sun is shining brightly, a person usually says, “It’s a lovely morning, isn’t it?” or “Isn’t it hot today?”, and the answer is “Yes, it’s wonderful weather we’re having.” After a night of heavy snowfall and hard frost he may say: “A cold morning, isn’t it?”, and the answer is “Yes, we’re having a very cold winter.”
Or perhaps the day is dull; it is raining a little, the sky is grey and cloudy, and everyone is wearing a raincoat or carrying an umbrella. As it gets darker a thick fog covers London. Cars and buses put on their lights and move slowly along the wet, slippery roads. As one friend meets another the usual remark is, “Isn’t the weather awful!”
As the weather changes so often, it is of course quite important. It plays a big part in the lives of the British people.. Every daily newspaper publishes a weather forecast. Both the radio and the television broadcast news about the weather several times each day.