Under the Weather

Under the Weather

Us and the Elements


Tom Fort, whose writing has been variously described as 'jocund', 'slightly loopy', ' unbelievably poignant' and 'deeply peculiar', travels around Britain experiencing some of its extremer climates and some of its more typical with a view to explaining what we make and have made of the British weather and what it has made of us.
There are two interlocking strands: the story of those who - moved to an exceptional, sometimes obsessive degree by the fascination felt by so many of us - sought to know and understand our weather; and the story of its impact on us - our history, our culture, the way we think and behave.He focuses on the people - the clergymen, the gentlemen of leisure, the crackpots, visionaries, charlatans and shysters, all now largely or utterly forgotten - who volunteered and toiled for the cause, telling their stories by tracking them down to the places - usually their own gardens - where they indulged their quite passion for measuring rainfall, scrutinising dewdrops, tapping their barometers and peering at their thermometers.Once their age - of the amateur scientist - was over, and the business of weather forecasting was annexed by professionals with state backing it became a less colourful affair.
The historical strand is, in part, a straightforward chronology; an account of the part played by climate in our history; how, when the sun shone and rain fell in gentle abundance, we prospered and multiplied; how, when the climate cooled, bringing wet summers and savage winters, we perished by plague and famine and retreated from places made unbelievable; how in time, as we matured from a rural, peasant society, our weather became less a matter of life and death (though always on absorbing interest).But beyond that there is another dimension to its influence on us - the moral and spiritual one.This is contentious, but intriguing: the extent to which we share as view of 'our weather', and the extent to which it may have shaped us into the people we are.


  • Tom Fort has put together a delightfully discursive book: a gentle rambling through the printed sources interlaced with meetings and outings to give it topicality.
    Daily Mail

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Tom Fort

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