ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2014
Many people, including myself, thought Oscar Wilde had uttered the phrase “everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it”…Wrong, apparently. While Mr Wilde is responsible for the cynical and snobbish “conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative” quote, that other wise guy, Mark Twain, gets credit for the astute pithy take on the topic about which everyone talks but does nothing.
The Irish smartarse Wilde, like Twain, Groucho Marx and a swag of others, offered scores of clever and witty sayings on the issues of their day, many of which, thankfully remain in conversation today. In fact, there was a time, pre Google, if you were unsure of who may have coined a particular pity, sage or humorous phrase; it was a safe bet to attribute it to Oscar Fingal O’Flaherty Wills Wilde. That in itself has now become a hot topic but it’s the weather and its fluctuating behaviour we must talk about.
It turns out Twain “banged on” a bit about the weather including an unkind comment about spending a cold winter San Francisco in the summer. But even from when the dawning of the age of Aquarius in that cold “Summer in the City” city first “let the Sunshine in” motivating creative folk the world over to have thunder in their hearts, to walk on sunshine, chase and catch the wind, stand, sing, cry, dance and even get naked in the rain which was sometimes hard and once purple, IMHO no one has topped MT’s astute observation of humanity’s apathy to all things meteorological.
Everyone still talks about the weather but still no-one does or is able to do anything about it…….Bob Dylan got a bit close with the awakening anthem….” blowin in the wind” but Twain’s wise weather witticism wins out.
We have just entered our sixth day of, depending on which clichéd news network you watch, the sweltering/scorching/roasting weather conditions which are sweeping across most of the South Eastern section of the great southern land including my home in the nation’s capital, Canberra, while at the same time being exposed to the graphic footage of large American cities completely snowbound. And everyone, even those souls lacking in imagination Wilde so savagely slayed with his tongue all those years ago, is talking about the weather. These days though a lot of folk want someone to do something about the weather.
Back in Twain’s day there weren’t too many tub thumping, pig ignorant right-wing radio commentators around talking about doing nothing about the weather.
But lately radio shock jocks have been publicly frothing at the mouth while privately offering prayers of thanks to the heavens for this godsend which is the hysterical debate “Climate Change”. People are still talking about the weather. Al Gore’s pot stirring doco “an inconvenient truth” got the right’s goat on the climate issue. But then again he had the temerity to almost beat George W Bush to the White House. He had to be dealt with.
Climate change or its more emotive and subjective tag global warming is guaranteed to get the punters banging the talkback lines. All the SJ has to do is to mockingly suggest “torrential rain in the Philippines, blizzards in Europe and scorching conditions down under in Australia” WTF…..??
Those with the clipboards and white coats seem to be evenly divided on the hot topic of warming versus cooling. Shockjock gets the Climate Change deniers on air to poo poo or demonstrate (with twisted facts and figures) how distorted facts and figures are polluting the already muddied waters of the climate change debate. There is a very fine line between twisting and distorting and muddied and polluted. It’s how adroitly you use the facts and how “expertly” your hand picked expert presents them.
I’ll paraphrase a TV weatherman in the US who suggested climate change should be “left to Mother Nature to sort, it’s way too big for we mere humans”
“Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it” still rings true after all these years. Those who can, can but won’t ,including Australian PM, Tony Abbott, who is on record as saying “climate change is crap”. Like most pollies he only has eyes on the next election.
So Mr Twain, it would appear, was way ahead of his time.
Might I humbly suggest, with the deepest of apologies to Mr Wilde, a couple of thoughts to balance the literary ledger? If Wilde were still around he may have been tempted to update or refresh a couple of his gems thus…..”There is only one thing in life worse than not talking about climate change and that is talking about climate change” and “we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at where the hole in the ozone layer is going to be”
And without doubt Oscar’s favourite song from the pop era would be about the weather…………The Weather Girls 90’s hit “It’s Raining Men”