The single most common comment people make to me when I tell them I live in Toowoomba goes something like, "Oh, it's so cold there! How do you cope with winter?".
Depending on my frame of mind my usual response is to make some attempt to correct their wildly inaccurate perception and invite them to come try Toowoomba for themselves. I mean really, any place without snow, ice and wide-spread frost cannot make any claim to being cold. Right?
Well, as luck would have it, I have had only two people take up my offer to come and stay. The first was a couple from Tasmania whom my wife and I had met during a working week in the apple isle. They owned a heritage-listed bed and breakfast on the north coast of Tassie and we spent the week in what I can only describe as the coldest, darkest, blackest part of the planet I have ever had the misfortune to visit. Now, don't get me wrong. This couple were very hospitable, we got on well together, and we are still friends. But the cold could be cut with a knife, and the nights were so dark I swear it had a presence all of its own.
Reciprocating hospitality, they came and stayed with us some years ago when Toowoomba had the first heat wave I can ever remember. Our old air conditioning unit gamely tried to slow the pace of the mercury rising in our wall thermometer; all to no avail. These poor folk sweltered and melted their way bravely through a stop-over on their way to other places, and I remember the week-end being constantly peppered with the comment, "I thought Toowoomba was supposed to be cold!". The saving grace was that the temperature was high but the air was dry.
Fast forward to last week. I had a mate call to let me know he was going to come up and see me for the day. While we were discussing his imminent visit, I made a throw-away line, something to the effect of, "You should consider moving up here". I was not surprised to get the age-old deflection, "Oh, it's so cold there!".
The day he turned up the temperature was in the mid-30s. Hot, but not pushing close to any record. The day's high was not going to raise a comment on that night's weather report. But the killer was the humidity. We stepped outside to get a coffee and our shirts immediately stuck to our backs. The air was thick and heavy, and while there were some clouds around, it did not look like rain was going to bring relief any time soon.
The next four-odd hours of conversation were sprinkled with comments like, "It's so hot! How do you live here?" He left earlier than planned, eagerly anticipating the air-con in his car.
It's so hard pleasing people. <sigh>