Anna-Karenina Weather

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Today (and most of the past three months) are what we in the trade call Anna-Karenina weather. All good-weather days are alike; each bad-weather day is bad in its own way.

Ice Age Weather

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Today is what we in the trade call Ice Age weather. There's a patch of snow in the shadow of a lock-up garage in Summertown that hasn't melted since the snow fell five days ago. AND I THINK IT'S GETTING BIGGER.

My neighbour is a geomorphologist, and he explained it to me. During our frosty nights, moisture from the air condenses onto the patch, making ice. Because the days are cold, the ice doesn't melt. Instead, it reflects sunlight. So the ground stays cold, and when more snow falls, it won't melt either. So the patch reflects more sunlight, then even more, and soon the ice lasts all year round. The ice remains as a glacier, and the local climate has flipped into a stable state from which it cannot return. Palaeogeologists call this the White Summertown Scenario.

They debate whether this has happened before. A few think it has, more than 650 million years ago. Many believe it hasn't. But my neighbour says that's not relevant. Nascent pre-Cambrian glaciers did not have lock-up garages to shelter behind. This one does. And it is definitely growing. This does not bode well for house prices.

I walked past it again yesterday morning. There was a frozen puddle behind it, on which ants were holding a Frost Fair. One was roasting a whole ladybird on a spit. Several were skating to a grasshopper band playing grass-hop music. There was a flea circus, and a refreshment stall with an aphid tethered to it. The stallholder was feeding the aphid yeast, and two teenage ants were slouching against a corner post drunkenly taunting a damselfly. On a seat nearby, a mayfly was begging for cash. Its DSS cold-weather payments had been delayed owing to a computer cock-up, and were not expected to arrive for another month. Although this is 31 mayfly lifetimes, a DSS spokesman today refuted accusations that the system was in crisis.

And I'm worried. I suspect my neighbour. Last night, I saw him emerge from his house with a plastic tray of ice cubes. This morning, the ice had engulfed the garden next door. I THINK HE'S FEEDING IT.

And now the ice patch has expanded again. The lady down the road is walking her husky; the bookshop round the corner is advertising Penguin books using real penguins; and I've just passed Ranulph Fiennes. It looks like being a long hard winter.

Today is what we in the trade call glove-on-the-wall weather. There's a raw and gusty north-east wind, but it is dry. Mums are out with pushchairs, their toddlers wiping wind-runny noses and letting fall gloves from chubby pink fists. We are lucky to live in such a big softy of a country, where passers-by will stop to place lost gloves safely on the nearest wall. Glove-on-the-wall weather is also known as teddy-on-the-wall weather and bobble-hat-on-the-wall weather.

  • "Robots from Universe Next Door Rush to Steal our RAM."

  • "Black-Hole Storm Set to Batter Betelgeuse. How YOU Can Beat the Photon Floods."

  • "Keep Germany out of Singularity, Warns Minister. Secret Plot will Convert Jupiter to Hitler Super-Brain, Take Over EU."

And speaking of Daily Express Weather, after writing that entry, I found this: Curious repeating headlines in the Daily Express in the NewsFrames blog. The author shows two collections of Daily Express front pages, the first running from 18 January 2013 back to 29 October 2012. It becomes immediately obvious just how often the Express threatens us with immigrants, gales, the Big Freeze, and the EU. And how often it contradicts itself.

Today is what we in the trade call Daily Express Weather. It is colder than the Traitors' Plain and more bitter than a friend's betrayal. And it is the only day when reality caught up with Daily Express weather headlines, even though the Express has announced a Big Freeze every week since the end of September. Except for one week when it predicted a freeze and floods, a combination which, logically, can be satisfied only by very quick glaciers.

The Express likes Big Freezes because it hopes they will kill immigrants. When not yelling about Minus-Fifteen Misery For Millions or provoking race hate, the Express proclaims medical cures. These are always for arthritis, diabetes, or blood pressure, and involve either stem cells, scientists from King's College London, or cranberries. With a new medical miracle reported once every three days -- One-A-Day Jab Means End To Arthritis Misery For Millions -- it is a wonder that we are not immortal. Perhaps the Big Freeze got us. Or the immigrants.

The Scream

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The images, in essence, are abstract political cartoons. She thinks of the economy while staring at the blank paper, then creates the artwork.
From WSU instructor displays abstract political cartoons by Becky Wright, a piece announcing an exhibition by Kristina Lenzi.

"At least" Weather

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Today is what we in the trade call "at least" weather. It's spitting, but at least it isn't cold. Yesterday was cold, but at least it wasn't raining. All British weather is "at least" weather, apart from a week of August-hot sunny days in April which make you forget that it will rain, for at least half an hour, and unpredictably, every day for the rest of the year.

Marzipan Town Crier

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This is the cake that was presented at the Oxford town crier competition. I took the photo during the lunch, between the morning and afternoon halves of the competition.

I've put up my photos of the Oxford town criers' competition of July 2nd. It was a noisy and colourful day, which we finished in an open-top tour bus full of town criers in their regalia, all shaking their bells at the people on the pavements and shouting. You'd be surprised how surprised a citizen of Oxford looks when confronted by a bus full of town criers.

The chap in the last two photos but one is Anthony Church, Oxford's own Town Crier. I drew a cartoon of him which you can see online here. There's a copy hanging in the Bonn Square Art Café, on whose 2nd floor I have an exhibition until November 12th.

The thumbnails below link to the full-size photos on my page.