A few days ago I was walking past a bus stop and somebody inside said, apropos of nothing, ‘Well, tha just dunt know what to wear, does tha?’ And he’s right, tha dunt. There was nobody else in the bus stop so I assumed the observation was pointed towards me, and so I did a little laugh and put my thumb up in a jolly fashion, then pointing to my woolly hat and my open-necked shirt to show that I, too, didn’t know what to wear. At the same bus stop a couple of days later someone else said to me as I shambled past ‘Time guz that fast dunt it?’ and again I employed my tiny chortle and my upthumb.

I like many things about the people of Barnsley but one of the things I like most is the kind of Public Service Announcement that I’ve just described. These seem to be peculiar to this part of the world and I guess they speak to the sense of community that we’ve always prided ourselves on. People just like to tell you stuff and they assume (sometimes wrongly) a kind of shared cultural and social knowledge which means that they can employ verbal shorthand when they spout to strangers. So ‘What does that reckon then?’ can usually mean that they’re asking something about the way Barnsley FC play and the prospects for a new manager, as can ‘Referee, eh?’ or ‘Are tha still watching ‘em?’

The aforementioned sentence from the bus shelter about not knowing what to wear is, of course, from the most popular genre of what scientists call ‘Unasked For Comment’ which centres around the weather. We love to tell each other about the weather in a voice that suggests it’s a surprise to us even though we all experiencing it at the same time.

So: a husband and wife are walking through the rain. The rain is not particularly heavy but it’s making its point felt. The husband turns to the wife and says ‘Raining’ and the wife says ‘Aye’ and they plod on. The wife then says ‘They said drizzle’ and the husband says ‘This int drizzle’ and again they plod on. Later, the rain stops and the sun debates with some clouds as to who should win the supremacy of the sky. The husband says ‘Stopped raining’ and the wife says ‘They said it might.’ They plod on and on.

Of course in this case the conversation isn’t really about the weather; it’s about companionship and human interaction. You could just plod in silence but silence, unlike a Ming vase, is there to be broken. It’s always good to talk, always.

And let’s face it, the weather has given us plenty to chunter about these past few weeks. Lots are people are saying, or implying, that they can’t believe it’s spring because it’s been so cold and damp. And as I’m writing this and even more so as you’re reading it, May is well into its stride and yet at times recently it really has felt like winter has been hanging on on stage for just one more encore.

Let’s admit it: it really has been freezing some mornings. Literally freezing as the birds who slithered about on our bird bath will tell you. My visible breath told me it was cold and yet it was getting towards the time of year when it should be getting warmer.

On my morning strolls I’ve noticed that, contrary to what you might think, it seems to get a bit colder between 0520, when I go on my first stroll and 0700 when, if the papers haven’t arrived early, I go on my second stroll. You’d think it would be colder earlier but my experience is that it isn’t. I leave for my stroll with my woolly hat pulled as low over my head as it will go but after a couple of minutes I put it in my pocket and loosen my scarf but then when I go up for the papers I often wish I’d not left my scarf in the house and I have to fish my hat out of my pocket.

So, as that man said in that bus stop that time, ‘Tha dunt know what to wear, does tha?’ I reckon the mankini will have to stay in the mankini drawer for a while yet.