Woe betide us if Britain should ever experience a true natural disaster, because based upon our collective reactions to a bit of snow over the past week we are probably all doomed.
The whole thing played out like a surrealist comedy skit. First we were told that snow was on the way. Then we were told that snow is falling, as if we need the news to tell us this kind of information when we could just as easily look out of our windows. I swear that I even saw one website running a live blog of the snow as it happened. And then afterwards came the post-snow debriefing where everybody concerned jumped into a frenzied bout of completely unnecessary bitching and finger pointing whilst they tried, in true British fashion, to find somebody to pin the blame upon but themselves.
As much as the forecasters might claim that we have been experiencing the coldest winter in twelve years, the fact that we so failed so miserably to cope with the situation is alarming. Our transport network slowly ground to a halt, with an article on the BBC news website going so far as to say that smaller businesses could be forced to close as a result of this extra pressure during an already tight financial situation. An estimated one in five people were unable to travel to work as a result of the weather conditions.
Yes, it may have been the heaviest snowfall we have had in some time, but the fact still remains that snow in February is about as surprising as Christmas in December. Considering that, barring some form of calamitous change, Winter happens every year it begs the question why there are not greater measures put in place to cope with events such as these. Especially considering that there are places in the world where people are used to dealing with much more adverse conditions than we have experienced over the past two days.
For me, one of the more maddening aspects has been the angry reaction against the closure of schools. Schools are the places which are allowed to close when it is snowing. In fact, that should pretty much be written into law. Everybody remembers the time when they were young, waking up to see everything covered in a sheet of white and then tentatively listening to the radio over breakfast for news of your schools closure before spending the rest of the day causing as much mischief and mayhem outside as humanly possible. It’s an experience which is right up their with Christmas in the big list of ‘defining moments of childhood’, so I couldn’t help but feel more than slightly disappointed that there was such an adverse reaction to the prospects of children missing one or two days of school.
In the end, I think it was the small media frenzy that the past two days managed to produce which baffled me the most. I guess we Brits really are crazy for talking about the weather after all.