Chunk of the day: adverse weather conditions

Over recent days, the news has been full of dire warnings. We’ve been urged to batten down the hatches and prepare to be hit hard by what’s being called the Beast from the East! Quite what the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Wladimir Klitschko, would make of the fact that he seems to have lost his nickname to a cold front that has swept in from Siberia is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for sure: when it comes to weather, it doesn’t take much of a punch to bring Britain to its knees!

To be fair, I should say that here in London it has snowed more in the last 48 hours than it has done for many years. It’s even dropped below zero for a day or two as well! Of course, given that we’re not exactly a Mediterranean country, you might think that we’d be ready for such eventualities. The sad reality, though, is that the first dusting of snow is usually enough to spark a small-scale national emergency. Add a few extra inches and the whole country grinds to a halt!

To anyone who’s had the misfortune of needing to use London Underground this week, the most frequently heard chunk of language will surely have been due to adverse weather conditions! If weather conditions are adverse, they have a negative – and potentially harmful – effect. In the same way, we can talk about celebrities or organisations receiving a lot of adverse publicity if they do something wrong, or a new drug having an adverse effect on patients.

On the tubes, we’ve been told to take care as the floors are slippery due to adverse weather conditions, dejected crowds have been left on freezing platforms as they wait for severely delayed trains, the delays caused, of course, by bad weather. Yes, even on underground lines! Go figure!

Across the country, countless other things occur due to adverse weather conditions. Flights are grounded, and roads are closed; trains are delayed or cancelled, and (maybe, if you’re lucky!) they lay on an emergency bus service to try and get you home. Cars get stuck in the snow and drivers are stranded overnight in their vehicles.

You can imagine how all of this must seem to a Russian or a Swede or even a German! You could be generous and say it’s further evidence of our national eccentricity – or you may just come to the conclusion that we couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery! Why don’t we have snow ploughs out clearing the road? Why don’t people grit the pavements? Why isn’t all the snow just cleared away?

On the plus side, this time next week it’ll probably be raining again!

Want to learn more about British culture? Take our ADVANCED LANGUAGE AND CULTURE course this summer.

  • What’s the most extreme weather your country has to deal with? Is it usually handled well?
  • Have you ever had problems travelling because of bad weather? When? What happened?
  • Can you think of anyone in the public eye who’s received adverse publicity recently? Why?
  • Have you ever been stranded anywhere? Why? What happened?
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8 Responses

  1. Nataliya Vinogradova says:

    Hi Hugh! What is meant in ” Quite what Wladimir Klitschko, would make of the fact that he seems to have lost his nickname to a cold front”

    • hugh dellar says:

      There are two things going on there . . . there’s A COLD FRONT is a moving mass of cold air that comes in and causes the temperature to drop – and then there’s the idea of I DON’T KNOW WHAT HE’D MAKE OF IT, meaning I don’t know how he’d feel or what he’d think. So the whole idea if that Klitschko used to be known as the Beast from the East, but now that what they’re calling this cold front – and what he makes of this is anyone’s guess. In other words, no-one knows what he’d think about this fact.

      • Nataliya Vinogradova says:

        Thank you. Now everything fell into place. I didn’t know he had this nickname.

        • hugh dellar says:

          Not sure if he was the first boxer ever to use that nickname, but he certainly became very associated with it when he was at his peak.

  2. Oksana says:

    Greetings from Siberia! Yes, Hugh, you know how it could be here in winter ). Anyway, I can understand that people in London are going through a kind of tough times these days. It’s not at all typical for your climate. I believe you’ll survive ). Thanks a lot for your enjoyable writing. Brilliant as always. The phrases in red are remarkable. The interesting thing is that ‘batten down the hatches’ has a word-for-word idiomatic equivalent in Russian with the same meaning.

    • hugh dellar says:

      I don’t think we can really compete with Siberia when it comes to winter! But do bear in mind the fact the air is damper here! Interesting that you have a direct Russian equivalent of BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES. Funny how often idioms are very similar across languages.

  3. pat g says:

    This is excellent stuff guys. Talking about the weather is a national pastime and this language is important for students to know.Great work. That’s another lesson sorted for Monday. Thanks a million.

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