‘The Beast from the East’ – a brand new English weather term
Today is March 1st – we think about daffodils and spring lambs but instead we are knee-deep in snow and ice!
This puts me in mind of another March saying: ‘In like a lion out like a lamb’ and today this idiom is really proving to be true: Blizzards, strong easterly winds, bottle ice and driving snow are certainly more lion than lamb-like. The recent winter weather has delivered the worst snow for many years and the whole country is in a state of chaos. I’m certain that many of our European cousins are looking on in great amusement as our news programmes are dominated with weather reports from every corner of the country, we all struggle to get into work and all the schools are closed!! It’s all ‘meat and drink’ to them as they experience this year in, year out.
So exactly why are we in the UK so obsessed with the weather?
It is true, we talk about it constantly. It’s the opener to most of our conversations – ‘Lovely day’ – ‘horrid weather we’re having at the moment’ – ‘hasn’t it been cold and miserable of late?’ I’ve had two telephone conversations this morning and they were both about – you’ve guessed – the weather!!
Weather is so much tied up with the psyche of the British people because it is so changeable. You can experience all seasons in a single day and have to be prepared for anything – rain, wind, snow and heat. We never go out without an umbrella and a cardigan even on the warmest day. Whenever we arrange an event we just cross our fingers and hope that weather will be kind – but carry on regardless. What choice do we have?
The ‘Beast from the East’ is actually quite persistent and has been with us for over 3 days now and may stay around for another two – this is very unusual and so it makes headlines. It also, as you can see, gives us new language 🙂
Here is some of its handiwork as it roars across from Siberia:
So, back finally to my theme of weather and language. I started to look up weather idioms and got truly bogged down in the sheer number of them. Further proof, I think, of how intrinsically weather and our British culture are wedded together. So sticking with the theme of winter and all things inclement here are a few more.
snowflakes – behaving like a wimp (being used of us at present as we cancel flights, trains and close schools!)
to catch your death – a warning not to go out in very cold or snowy weather – especially if you are not properly attired!!
snowed in – to be confined to your home because of heavy snow
snowed under – having too much work to do
walk on thin ice – at risk of causing a bad situation through doing or saying the wrong thing
tip of the iceberg – the problem is much worse than it appears
So the Beast from the East has roared into our language even if it is turning tail weather-wise. We are enjoying the new term, it’s in all the news bulletins but, as someone pointed out, the Beast from the East for us British seems to be a lot of Hysteria from Siberia!!