Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Winter blues

After a long period of mild weather, winter finally arrived in the UK this week - and then went away again.

The bad weather certainly did not creep up on us. In fact, every single day for a week we've been warned that an Arctic blast was on its way. There were fears of travel chaos, burst pipes and flooding as the thaw set in. In fact, there were so many warnings it would have been easy to conclude that a mini-Ice Age was underway. And it is certainly true that Britain's famous incapacity to cope with any extreme weather has made things more difficult than they should be. For example, the latest excuse for delays on London's Tube system was ice on the rails caused because the snow had washed the antifreezing liquid off. Once the rails had frozen, this prevented further de-icing trains getting through. In fact, there's an excuse for all seasons: leaves in autumn, ice in winter, warped tracks in summer. Snow and freezing temperatures are normal weather for this time of year and we shouldn't really be getting excited about it. Winter is, after all, an annual occurence. In our risk-averse country with its creaking infrastructure, we get the worst of both worlds. Normal winter weather gets more trailers than a Hollywood blockbuster - and, yet, the warnings don't seem to help us cope with it any better.

Snow causes Tube chaos, This is London, 28 January 2004

(First published on Spiked, 30 January 2004)

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