Posted by: Paul | December 21, 2010

Stay at Home

Urgent dispatch from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious: It’s very, very cold out there. It said so on the news – all the time, for weeks and weeks now.

This caused several things to happen yesterday: Adam’s nursery shut so I had an extra day’s childcare, our washing machine backed up because the outflow pipe froze and spilled water all over the garage floor (thank goodness it isn’t in the kitchen), and when I got the car out to ship Adam over to the Grandparents for the afternoon, the washer fluid had frozen in the tank so I couldn’t clear my windscreen until I’d poured hot water in to melt it down!

The car thermometer registered -1 inside the garage yesterday and fell to -5 during the journey. The roads are like ploughed fields in places. The airports and trains are barely running. All this points to one conclusion – stay at home! Sod work. Everyone’s powering down for Christmas now anyway, is a few days going to make a difference? I myself have very little to do this week except get an invoice out, do some filing and make some arrangements for a recording next week – which I may or may not be able to get to depending on the state of the country’s road network by then!

A lot of the talk in the press at the moment is: “Why Can’t Britain Cope?” It’s a fair question. What we’re experiencing at the moment may seem extreme by our standards, but it’s mild in comparison to what the likes of not just places like Canada and the Scandinavian countries, but all over central Europe. If Germany can deal with it, why can’t we?

I feel we’ve been spoiled until recently. This is now the third ‘harsh’ winter in a row, but before that they had been very mild for a long, long time, especially in the south. This to me is just a return to the winters we had when I was a child – every year was a white Christmas, and every year the snow lasted weeks. But then it stopped – until last year, the last White Christmas I had experienced at home was in 1983. The intervening years were a mess of drizzle and mild temperatures, with not a snowball to be found.

It still snowed though – it just used to do it later, in January or most commonly February. In the meantime, the cost-cutting local authorities scaled back their gritting and snow clearing activities in order to save money. Because, after all, didn’t Global Warming mean we’d all basically be living in Spain by 2010?

No, it doesn’t. ‘Weather’ is not ‘Climate’. We still need to be prepared – even more so in fact, because the change particularly in ocean temperatures leads to more extremes and more unpredictability in weather patterns when you live in a temperate, maritime zone like ours. It’s still going to snow. Look outside your window. Just whatever you do, don’t attempt to drive your car like the road is perfectly normal, like some of the idiots where I live!

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