If I were to believe the media winter is currently putting it’s frosted, clawed, fingers into the very heart of Britain. I’ve included a few shots from the canal that runs adjacdent to where I work, just to exemplify how truly treacherous and deadly this kill storm has been.
Britain is a country dominated by weather. If you want to make idle chit chat with a Brit just ask them about how cold it is. In the same way that Eskimo’s have a hundred words for snow*we Brits have a hundred words for rain.
Sleet, drizzle, downpour, torrent, driving rain, misting, pissing it down (a personal favourite), heaving it down, etc.
Rain is a defining characteristic of the British and it brings to the fore a peculiarly British trait. Despite living in a country consistently battered by rainfall and bad weather the average Brit will make no efforts to actually protect themselves from the elements. We’d much rather be miserable and unprepared rather than be accepting of an almost scientific certainty. I wouldn’t label the British as masochistic, but there’s a certain element of preferring not to be seen to care. We like the illusion that the world doesn’t faze us, and if that means getting soaked whenever it rains or risking hypothermia when it snows then SO BE IT.
As such over the week Britain has had a few feet of snow fall. Where I live the snow got to about seven inches, further north it got to about two foot. But in the grand scheme of things two foot of snow should not be enough to cripple what is ostensibly a modern first world country.
As it is public transport groaned into non-existence, rather than its previous spotty existence at best, and most office workers raced to their office windows, surveyed the gentle flutter of snowfall and exclaimed a unified ‘fuck this’ before heading home for a snow day. As such the great chain of industry falters for a day and local, Orc like, hordes of youth have another tool at their disposal to make life unpleasant.
To paraphrase a Marks and Spencers advert. This isn’t just snow, this is a malicious death storm fuelled by an arcane and eldritch intelligence. This snow isn’t just an errant weather pattern, it’s a unified attack strategy. Snow drifts are insurgents, forcing people to abandon cars and children from schools, cutting off the elderly and infirm from the rest of civilization. The news perpetrates this bizarre reaction to the weather. The national news is full of ashen faced presenters glumly reporting on the ever rising tide of snow as if every foot of snow consigned a thousand puppies and kitties into a great and macabre furnace. DON’T GO OUT they plead, their dead eyes almost moist with tears, their hearts rendered immune to every emotion but fear.
Of course the hilarious thing is that with modern news being so obsessed with the views of the public (do yourself a favour and spend four minutes watching this great clip from Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe on the topic) the grim spectre of this snowish apocalypse was counterpointed by wacky photos sent in by the public.
“The snow has now instigated a letter bombing campaign, if you receive any suspicious packages please report them to your local constabulary as these could contain dangerous quantities of more snow….and now here are some pictures of people having snowball fights in Wigan….I’m sorry to say that mere moments after this picture was taken the snow devoured them all…transmogrifying their corpses into hellish harbingers of yet more snow. If you have any more pictures of pre-devouration jubilation send them into the usual address”
The local news isn’t much better, although there is a cruel joy to be taken from watching local news presenters, used to being treated like feted calves, forced to present from some grit repository in some dingy hellhole in their constituency. “Here I am..” says the presenter, morosely “…in a bus station in Armley…” the camera briefly zooms out to show that they are indeed in a bus station in Armley “…and I’ll be talking to some bus drivers about their thoughts on the weather” the camera cuts to the assorted Gollums, Trogolodytes and Bandersnatches lined up to bleat their opinions on the weather and in the distance you can almost hear the presenter pining for their cosy studio, away from the slobbering masses who make up their viewers.
What is so bitterly hilarious about this pantomime is the echoes of last year, and the year before, and the year before. The same questions are raised, the same conclusions found, and nothing is ever learnt. People still panic, roads aren’t gritted, public transport continues to just refuse to function, and the public look blithely on and get on with the important task of dicking about in the snow whilst the country shudders to a halt.
In the meantime I’ll be enjoying every snowday I get (I’m all for the poor management of the public sector and the schools when they allow me days off from work and university) and praying that Jack Frost doesn’t personally shove an icicile in a place that wouldn’t be conducive to my continuing existence.
*This actually isn’t true, it’s an urban myth based on some delightful colonial thinking in 1911.