• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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With the UK weather, you can be sure you are OYO


 I guess OYO is a common acronym some of us used when we wanted to remove ourselves from the scene of an act that we would rather not be associated with in daytime. It could even involve very mean friends leaving equally mean friends to suffer an inglorious fate by cleverly dissociating themselves from an indiscretion jointly committed if they could, especially when plans backfire! I suppose it’s like saying, in pidgin English, “My hand no dey for that thing you wan do, if dem catch you o!” Or, “Make we sign sey all man dey on your own (OYO) if alarm blow!” I must send an apology to my old classmate at Nsukka, Ufuoma Omologe, if for any reason my version of pidgin is not Wafarian enough (meaning, not good enough to pass the test those sleek pidgin speakers in Warri, Delta State, unleash on us, hapless other Nigerians). But I am sure that Ufuoma and his fellow Wafarians would agree that I haven’t really forgotten some of the roots and branches of it all! Which brings me to my subject of observation for today, the UK weather.

And it is about how it perpetually leaves you on your own (OYO) once the summer ends. It’s even worse if, like the UK has had for some years now, there is a freak summer in which the forecasts go out of the windows and you have no way of hiding yourself under any political correctness to explain what you are doing in the country. I recall my experience in 2007 when I was in the UK for vacation. It might just be that, like Fela Kuti sang some years ago, we were just all suffering and smiling here when the weather made that sudden change from the summer sunshine to a chilly autumn, or the much harsher winter. It was already beginning to seem like winter, which meant it was beginning to really feel harsh, especially for those who might have spent a few months or even years in any of the hot, sunny and sweaty parts of Nigeria. If you’ve been used to 27-35 degrees, then even 10 degrees can be considered harsh.

The funny thing is that it isn’t only those who have come from much sunnier climes that just can’t get used to the weather; many of those born and raised here can’t get used to it either. It’s one of the reasons why they emigrate to Australia, New Zealand, Spain, the south of France, the Caribbean, amongst other places. And you are likely to find that at this time of the year, many natives here suffer what is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I don’t know whether you can call it a disease, but it is a syndrome, surely, and in a country where diseases carry such names as foot and mouth, blue tongue, you won’t be far off the mark if you called SAD a disease. Back home, you might be left wondering how much blue tongue and foot and mouth cow meat has made rounds in different pots in various homes; and we are still alive!

But perhaps, SAD can also explain a lot of the cold behaviours that are ingrained in natives here. And SAD too means that a lot of natives tend to (I don’t know whether they like it, though) be on their own, a typical example of OYO; but without necessarily meaning to leave someone else to stew in an indiscretion we may have jointly committed. So about this time every year, very many UK natives show signs of unhappiness; and it is not really because SAD is sad! If you are sad, though, you are unlikely to be happy. And I am not kidding; ask your neighbour or colleague in the office. Go on, have a go at this simple general knowledge test, don’t claim to know it all. No one really does! And so it is that for more than six years since I have been writing for this paper, most of those years from the UK, each time Frank, my publisher, had come into London and we had met or spoken on the phone, he’s always been constant with two statements.

First would be: “Phillip, I can never get used to this weather!” To be followed by the second: “How do you guys manage to deal with it?” This would, of course, be after I had genuinely asked: “Hope you are coping well with the weather since you came in?” Last week, he was in London and we spoke over the phone. This time, my ears genuinely looked forward to hearing those same statements. And hurray! They did.

Of course, I know you can’t get used to it, no matter how long you stay or have lived here. I haven’t, after more than eight years; and if UK natives can’t get used to it, no one can!