Great Britain? There’s nothing great about this weather..

With the exception of the usual glorious solitary week in April, so far it’s been a pretty average spring. There’s been much cloud, much rain, much grumbling. Snatched snippets of conversation on the commute to work bear testament to the disaffection of the masses; everyone agrees that they feel cheated. But what, exactly, have they been cheated of?

Anyone who has spent any length of time in this country will know the weather systems are at best erratic, at worst downright awful. Granted, they are becoming increasingly harder to predict with each year that passes, but that doesn’t change the fact the weather in Britain has never, in fact, been Great (apologies for the awful pun). And yet, hearing people whinge on about the substandard weather day in, day out, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the climate in the United Kingdom is usually on a par with the Seychelles, and that the current weather systems are playing havoc with the ‘norm.’

One can hardly blame the steady stream of Pac-a-mac clad tourists for feeling deflated as they traipse from one London monument to the next, rain pouring off their visors. But those of us who’ve lived here our whole lives have no excuse. We were born into this soupy greyness, punctuated only occasionally by phases of clear blue. We are familiar with the short-lived summers, the breezy autumns, the freezing winters and the dreary springs. We know the drill, so why do we persist in complaining? Because complaining is what we, as a nation, do best.

When you think about it, it’s probably just as well the weather never quite lives up to expectations in this country. Why? Because if we did have an unbroken summer of tropical heat, what would the commuters have to complain about then? The heat and lack of air conditioning on the trains, that’s what. When it comes to complaining we Brits are nothing if not consistent; and not even a change in weather front can alter that.

No wonder inspiration’s thin on the ground today..

Chasing dreams

Lottie was born different to most little girls. She knew this not because people regularly told her so (although they did), but rather because she could see with her own eyes. Not that she could ever understand why it mattered – apart from identical twins like Janey and Suki at nursery nobody looked exactly the same. And anyway, wasn’t there a famous phrase about variety being the spice of life?

As she grew up Lottie’s parents tried to manage her expectations of what she could achieve in life. She would never, they told her, be an athlete. But Lottie took exception to this. Why couldn’t she be an athlete? If she didn’t see her disability as insurmountable then why should anybody else?

For a while, during her early teens, Lottie towed the line. She concentrated on her grades at school and had a couple of boyfriends, pretending to have given up her wild ambition to be a sporting legend.

But behind the scenes she was as determined as ever. She found an academy and worked hard to win a scholarship. The day the letter came through her mother found her jumping for joy in the kitchen. Her jaw nearly hit the floor when Lottie explained what it meant.

“Running?” she’d said, a look of total incomprehension on her face.

“Yes Mum,” Lottie had replied. “Running.”

“But you don’t have….”

“Lower legs. No Mum, I don’t. But I do have these.” She pointed to her blades.

Her mother sighed and shook her head, and in that moment Lottie knew they’d crossed a boundary in their relationship that could never be uncrossed.

They couldn’t understand why she did it, given how hard she had to work at it, how much it took out of her.

But Lottie knew exactly why she did it.

She ran to chase her dreams.

Image

I’m ashamed to admit I can’t remember the name of this beautiful boy, who I met whilst volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania in 2007. He was wheelchair-bound and required daily physio in the form of his fellow orphans and myself and my fellow volunteers following a set routine of arm and leg bending exercises. I never felt he was getting anywhere near the level of treatment he required, and he often looked as if he were in pain, but he never complained and always had a wide smile on his face. I felt so sad remembering him just now that I cried. I pray he’s somewhere happy and safe, receiving the care he so desperately needs.