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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Winter Wonderland

Britain has come to a standstill, thanks to a newly discovered weather phenomenon that scientists are naming "snow".

Seriously, it snows most years.

We've known this flurry was coming for at least a week, and yet still the entire country was plunged into total chaos on Friday when at worst, SOME areas of the country were blanketed in 4 whole inches of snow. Schools were closed, public transport went into meltdown (almost as quickly as the snow itself), people could not get to work, Davina McCall got stranded on a motorway, and pity the poor passengers who had to spend the entire night breathing carbon monoxide inside the channel tunnel because the cold weather caused the trains to break down inside the tunnel (where it's not even snowing).

Don't get me wrong, I love the snow. I was so excited when I saw it yesterday morning, I raced round to watch my nephew's first experience of it, and it was brilliant - here he is 30 seconds later when the snow had stopped, ice skating on a frozen tub of water.

What I cannot understand, however, is how this country is so utterly unprepared for predicted snow. It must have cost the economy thousands in lost wages, cancelled journeys, compensation... and we knew it was coming! And it wasn't even that heavy!

Before anyone has a go at me, I would like you to consider this:
Some time ago I spent a year teaching in Austria (I don't like to go on about it). A country that experiences heavy snow every winter. So much snow, in fact, that it actually gets boring after a while. So much snow, that people wear boots to work and then change into slippers when they get there to prevent trudging slush all around the building. So much snow that sometimes, the odd country road is closed due to danger of avalanche.

Yet in an entire year, yes my feet were quite cold a lot of the time, but I never once experienced a late bus, a cancelled journey, kids not turning up to school, or even the slightest hint of pandemonium that we've experienced over the past couple of days. I really feel for those people who have been affected by this weather, especially those whose plans for Christmas have now been ruined by the total inability of our transport infrastructure to cope with a small amount of snow. Obviously safety is paramount, but if it's possible to keep things running smoothly in other countries, why are we so inept?

It's not a brilliant picture, but here is my former home:
The fact that I've taken a photo of it indicates that it was probably the first snow fall, so it got a lot worse, and those blobs in the middle are cars. On the road. Moving.

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