Not only are our bank holidays badly spaced, but the weather's always crap too. Well it is, isn't it? This last bank holiday weekend, for example, has been grey, wet and a bit rubbish. Low scudding clouds, sudden squally showers, deceptive sunny intervals and then a stonking great big thunderstorm to round the whole thing off. Because it always rains on bank holidays, doesn't it?
I thought I'd do some research to find out. I've looked back over the last fifteen bank holiday weekends (excluding Christmas and New Year) to find out whether it chucked it down or not. The precise data's surprisingly hard to find, but thankfully Britain contains severalamateurmeteorologists who dutifully record daily wind speed, sunshine, rainfall and lots of other readings on the internet. I've trawled through pages of precipitation data for Wokingham (thank you Bernard), and below are the results. The wet symbol means "more than ½mm of rain", whereas the sun symbol means "not wet", which isn't necessarily sunny. And if there's a border round the raincloud then it was particularly damp (more than 5mm of rain).
So it's not been all bad. Easter Monday hasn't put a foot wrong recently, and 2003 and 2005 were pretty damned gorgeous. On the other hand 2004 and 2006 (so far) have been washouts, just like you might have expected. Altogether 7 out of the last 19 spring/summer bank holidays have been wet, which is only slightly worse than SE England's long-term average of about 30%. Maybe our bank holidays aren't jinxed after all.
But, come next Monday, no doubt the sun will start beating down and we'll all be sat in the office staring longingly out of the window thinking "damn, if only the bank holiday had been a week later". So I decided to test this too. What if all the spring/summer bank holidays for the last four years had been a week later. Would the weather have been all dry and lovely instead, or did we have a lucky escape? Here are the results:
If the five bank holidays had been one week later... 2003: GF much wetter; EM wetter; MD wetter; LSp equally dry; LSu equally dry 2004: GF drier; EM a bit wetter; MD a lot drier; LSp a lot drier; LSu drier 2005: GF equally dry; EM a bit wetter; MD a bit wetter; LSp equally dry; LSu equally dry 2006: GF drier; EM equally dry; MD a lot drier
All of which adds up to six bank holidays which would have been wetter a week later, and six which would have been drier. Swings and roundabouts. Overall it doesn't make a blind bit of difference. The weather doesn't know that HM Government has prescribed a national day off work when it decides to chuck it down, or not. Yesterday's thunderstorm was just a statistical freak, obviously. And if the sun comes out in a blazing heatwave next Monday, that'll just be bloody typical.