More on the snow
Sorry, I think I’ve gotten some snow clogged in my brain – I’ve got two blog posts half written and there’s no sign of either my Christmas letter to the world or the end-of-year round ups. But I’ve just read Simon Jenkin’s piece for Comment is Free and have a couple of things to share that follow on somewhat from my previous blog post on the subject.
First of all, can I say I’ve been wondering about creating some kind of winter-clothing exchange system for people who can’t find adequate snow clothing for their kids – I have realised that the thought of spending often £50 on a piece of clothing that a child will grow out of the next year to keep them warm outside for a month each year is inhibitive, and I’m genuinely curious for suggestions – not least with populating the supplies.
I’m lucky to have a coat that would cope in anything as far north as Trondheim, walking boots that I barely wear in summer and thermal layers that mean I stand next to people who look like they’re dying and fail to understand why. I’m lucky (or a victim of the rush to protest in Copenhagen who did his homework, or a Canadian’s ex, take your pick) – but northern England needs solutions as well as the raw determination to “get out there”. Advice only goes so far, as they say, and my Social Action hat is feeling forgotten.
Secondly, I’m pissed to high hell about the use of the term Arctic Weather. The media are famous for their hyperbole, but this has specific problems attached. For starters, in Arctic conditions, chains on tyres are a sensible approach. For experiencing the same weather the Czech Republic gets every winter, try Winter Tyres. Central European is one suggestion, Nordic is my preferred option, Canadian will do nicely as well. These are places where people live their lives quite happily through 2-3months of sub –10C, and these are the places we must copy to survive.
Third, debate about this being a freak event versus an ongoing trend are interesting. There’s certainly reasons to suggest both, but I’m going with ongoing trend. If we get another winter like this next year, ongoing trend it shall definitely be. Either way, we need ways to live with it. And we need them on the National Curriculum first and foremost.
I generally agree with what Simon Jenkins has written, but for one line: “To equip Britain’s transport system to handle an occasional bout of snow would be absurd, though it is an absurdity the transport secretary is contemplating.” The evidence so far is that those people who invested last year are reaping rewards this year. But in reality, the equipping must be of both the infrastructure and the people using it – assuming the Department of Transport will supply fresh roads every day is not the answer, so people making adjustments should come in. As you’d expect, the comments section was full of gloom amongst which I found only a couple of pieces of relief:
Give me scenic snow over dreary rain and mud any time. And BTW – this should be a chance for someone to sell cross-country skis to the Brits…They aren’t expensive like the downhill ones (I bought my beginners’ ones here in the CR for approx fifteen quid), they don’t require much instruction for you to get going, and hey presto you are gliding across the fields admiring the winter scenery… But the British love the chance of a good old gloom-and-doom complain. Why not look on the bright side…much more of this "climate warming" and the Brits could finally get a chance to do some ice hockey…(fun for kids as well as pros).
I smell a plan. Not least because it costs far more than £15 to buy them in the UK at the moment – not so much because of monopolies but because of the small numbers being imported. The real question is how long before people start putting down trails. One problem I’ve encountered so far is the assumption that you need a “properly equipped resort” before you can do Winter Sports outside – whether this is because we want to know who to sue, or because we’re soft, I can’t tell.
I’ve had enormous trouble not exploding at the York Press for its coverage of kids playing on the frozen lakes in York. The advice they are giving is correct for a lake with only an inch of ice on it – but contemptible when we’ve been to -8C 3 times in a fortnight and barely popped over 0C in between. The ice is probably thick enough. What we need is the same testing as provided by municipalities all over the northern hemisphere – a quick investigation of ice thickness/density and then adjust the nearest sign board to say “skate at own risk”.
Then there was this, which pretty much states my feelings on the subject entirely.
I’ve also been enjoying the weather. It’s been snowier and colder than the UK, everything’s been running fairly normally, no school closures, no missed work or travel. All the OAPs up and out walking their dogs, clearing snow and shopping in the morning at -15 C. All the kids out sledging and playing. Fairly normal inner city life in a central European winter.
It wouldn’t be much fun if all the systems broke down in the face of a bit of winter weather though. It is failure in the face of mild winter conditions that is absurd, not the idea that you could somehow cope with them.
Its pretty interesting how everyone I hear being positive in these snowy conditions (barring my housemate) has experience of life beyond ski resorts in proper winter conditions. You can survive, even thrive, and certainly live and work, in conditions below zero or even sub –10C if you have the right equipment and clothing for the task. Merry Christmas, and enjoy shopping for snow clothes in the New Year sales!