As I was driving down Ham Hill just after 6.30 this morning, the BBC weather man on Radio 6 explained that although today was the equinox, Monday had been the equilux. I had never heard the word before, even the spell check dislikes it. It is the day when days and nights are equal and occurs a few days before the spring equinox and a few days after the autumnal equinox, which, according to my reckoning means that we get more light than darkness in the Northern Hemisphere. If it also means, having more daylight in the year than those in the Antipodes, then it seems a reasonable recompense for them having the All Blacks.
Seasons and their passing have always been important to me. There was a novel here in the house in childhood days the title of which was always frightening. “Winter in July” it was called, it was a title that conjured a terrible prospect in the mind of a primary school child. Only years later did the thought occur that in the Southern Hemisphere, winter in July might be a reasonable part of the natural order of things.
In teenage years, when daily statistics mattered, the weather column in the “Daily Mail” provided material for daily consumption. One summer’s day in the 1970s, it made disconcerting reading – somewhere called Tummel Bridge on Scotland had recorded an overnight low of minus four degrees centigrade. This was the winter in July scenario foreshadowed. In those youthful years, it was a threat of a nightmare.
The nightmare never materialised – the years became warmer and we were told that this was the future. There were suggestions that there would be a Mediterranean climate, even advice that we would need drought resistant plants.
Reports of erratic weather patterns around the world point to climate change, but change can mean cooling as well as warming. Since schooldays, there has been the nagging thought implanted by the geography teacher that if the Gulf Stream shifted we would have a climate comparable to that of Labrador on the east coast of Canada. What if the disruption of climate patterns leads to progressively colder weather? What if it was not the book ‘Winter in July’ that had the troubling title, but was instead it was the film title, ”The Day after Tomorrow” that was troubling? It wouldn’t be much use having a little more daylight than darkness if we were all to be frozen.