13 June, 2021


Some phrases trip off the tongue so naturally, you never stop to think about their meaning. Like ‘wet bank holiday weekend’. However great the threat posed by climate change, Londoners simply could never manage to get their teeth around ‘bright bank holiday weather’. It’s a bit like ‘politician’ and ‘probity’—the two just don’t go together in the public mind. The Whitsun bank holiday lived up to expectations. It started chucking it down the night before, and was still pouring at the end of the day as the sky turned from watery grey to a bleak, pitch black. Only those who have never lived over here are puzzled why the British turn to the weather to open every conversation.

We spent the weekend in rural Sussex, a well-heeled swathe of countryside south of London. It allowed Anu to play her favourite game of ‘spot the brown face’. That used to be her principal pastime when visiting my family in North Yorkshire (my mother told the neighbours that my wife was an Indian princess, in a freewheeling translation of her caste status). In Sussex too, Britain’s...

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