Home > Features > This Week in the News: Week Beginning 21/12/2009

This Week in the News: Week Beginning 21/12/2009

I was between three and seven years old when I first remember encountering snow. I can’t have been older as I wasn’t much taller than the gate of our small bungalow at that point. My family were just as excited as I, probably so because of where my parents were born. My dad is from Trinidad. His first experience of snow was the day he set foot off of the boat in the UK, bound for Essex and the psychiatric-nurse-adventures that were to follow. I remember him recalling the experience. That he’d never seen anything like it. That he was dreadfully cold. My mother is from Greece. Neither come from cold countries. In fact, their respective countries are so sunny and hot most of the year, that it’s a viable option to use solar panels to warm water there unlike Britain, where it is gloomy and overcast most days of the year. So, you can imagine my family’s excitement on this particular day.

I remember opening the front door. I was the first outside. I was wearing moonboots, woollen accessories and a warm jacket. I pulled a pillarbox red sleigh behind me which had chocolate button indentations where the seat was, to aid bottom-grippage. The sleigh cord was coarse as I pulled it along, out of the door. The snow was only a few inches deep, so I could hear the plastic sleigh scrapping against the cement which was only vaguely hidden beneath. Despite this, the snow had gathered particularly against the front gate. I placed the sleigh carefully on the mound and jumped in, the snow exploding on both sides. I was scared I would drown in it but I didn’t, and was soon joined by the rest of the family. We went to the nearby park where there was a large hill covered in snow and my sister and I took it in turns down the hill. Someone, probably my sister, came up with the idea of the both of us getting in the sleigh together which produced an unsatisfactory result. Ideally, we would have slid down the hill and ended at the bottom. Instead, aside from the sleigh being too small for the both of us, we overshot the bottom and ended up in a bush, thus ending the family outting.

The reason I am bringing this up is that it has been snowing this week in South East England – a rare occurance – and it is bringing back oxymoronically warm and fuzzy memories of cold, cold snow.

In February of this year, it snowed so heavily that London grounded to a halt for a day. It wasn’t as heavy as snowfall in Canada, Russia or the Arctic, but it seems that no one in England was prepared for any of it, despite knowing it was coming. The bus services were revoked as were most of the underground tube services making my journey to work difficult – though not impossible – so I got up as usual and trudged there despite calls from colleagues suggesting I stay at home. When I eventually did get there, only three colleagues from my department had, as I had, made it into work where I was promptly told to turn around.

This week, public transport appears to have leant its lessons from earlier on in the year but this didn’t stop there being a marked reduction in colleague attendance at my job, nor a lack of people on trains going into work. This makes me wonder why Britain are so unable to cope with snow. I always thought we were a hardy group but as a majority, the smallest obstacle appears to conflict with our work ethic. Not to mention our government and local councils who should be using the public taxes they take from us to make our roads and pathways safe for people in the event of snow and ice. After all, they have emergency planning sessions to plan for these situations, don’t they? So where are the snow plows? Why the lack of salted and gritted pathways? Why the pathetic excuses for not getting into work? I do hope the next time it snows that people would get it together. Aside from the fact it hurts our economy, on a more personal level, jogging on ice brings back my age-old fear of headbutting cars to the surface.

Be safe out there, wrap up warm and whatever you’re doing, I hope you have a very merry one.

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