Brian Dillon at The Paris Review:
It’s said the British never stop remarking on their weather. How will they cope in decades to come, when life is all weather, all the time? The country ran a brief test a few weeks ago: in mid- to late February the sun blazed, spring surprised itself, and the temperature in London, where I live, reached over 20°C (68°F). Boon or portent? Meteorological holiday or climate-change hell? Beautiful or sublime? Britons could not agree. It’s now mid-March, and I was awoken at five this morning by rattling windows and the rising shriek of a storm called Gareth (not the direst of names). Abruptly, spring is canceled, and London’s squares are littered with the corpses of premature blossoms.
As the wind died in the morning, I wandered around to Finsbury Circus, on the north side of which the London Institution once stood. It was here, on February 4 and February 11, 1884, that the essayist and art critic John Ruskin (who was born two hundred years ago last month) delivered “The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century”: a pair of apocalyptic lectures on modern weather.