Monday, 2 February 2009

Why Can't We Cope With The Weather?

So it snowed overnight, and has continued to do so most of the day and into this evening, and this is apparently the most snow that has hit London for 18 years. Most of the buses are off the road and schools are closed; Boris Johnson has said there will be no congestion charge today. I have noticed the lack of aircraft around because the house is either under the flight path for aircraft going in to Heathrow, or if aircraft are landing at Heathrow from the west then it is aircraft from London City Airport that overfly the house.

Questions have been asked about why we were so badly prepared even though we have known for days that this weather was coming. It seems that we have become a nation that gives up at the slightest bit of bad weather. It wasn't like this in the past. I am old enough to remember the Winter of 1962-63 when London suffered pea-soup fogs in November and December and then it snowed on Christmas night so that we woke up to deep snow on Boxing Day, and it snowed and snowed and snowed.

We went to school each day during the fogs that were thick enough that you were unable to see much more than an arm's length ahead. I don't remember us not going to school each day once the Christmas holidays were over. We lived about a mile away from my primary school and I had to cross two major roads to get there. Wellington boots were the order of the day with shoes in the ubiquitous shoebag carried over your shoulder, so that you had something to change into once you got to school. The school was housed in a group of Victorian buildings and each of the classrooms had a coal fire which provided the heating for the room.

I had a bike that Christmas and I wasn't able to use it until about Easter. The snow stayed for weeks, and trees in the local park were coated in white and seemed much larger than they really were because of the layers of snow. Yet with all this bad weather I remember buses running and cars on the road and people went to work because that is what you did.

So why can't we manage it today?


The Dotterel said...

Well, if you want answers I've got a couple - and, like you, I ploughed my way to school in the 1960s. But then, so did all the teachers; and all the kids (and I mean ALL, and it wasn't a tiny village school) walked. With half the staff driving up to thirty miles and hundreds of kids being bus-ed around schools often have no choice but to close. Oh, and the second reason - health and bl**dy safety, and a disabling fear of being sued by somebody for something any sensible person would be expecting to happen in such extreme conditions. Here endeth today's sermon!

Anonymous said...

Well said. We were having a discussion in the office yesterday about the very same issue. And we all agree with your sentiments. I'm old enough to remember the winter of 1962/63 as well and also remember trudging the half a mile to school, well wrapped up by my mother and then changing my shoes for something more comfortable. So what is the problem with the society of today? It has gotten bloody soft, that's what and even been allowed to take easy options! It has been reported that commerce lost an approximate £1.2bn in revenue yesterday because of people taking the easy option. Why? Especially as we are supposedly in extreme financial circumstances. It makes my blood boil. Having said this, other major cities in Europe are also suffering supposedly with these extreme weather conditions so perhaos we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves!! Talk later :-))

Anonymous said...

It makes me laugh every time I read the UK is getting snow because you just know we will come to a complete standstill like we have no idea how to function because we get a few snowflakes! It’s so crazy it’s laughable! I love snow, the heavier the fall the better... I once boarded a train in Sweden during a heavy snowfall in the middle of December. The train departed on time, stopped at all the stations on time and even arrived 10 minutes early to its final destination! It just amazed me at how good the service was and the temperature was -12 that day! Now my only complaint it we didn’t get much snow, it landed and melted as soon as it did! :(

cb said...

I am just really disgruntled that none of the pavements were gritted yesterday. Everyone knew the snow was coming. It was like walking on sheet ice and I live and work in busy areas - very far from out of the way.
Also the 'no buses' thing - I am amazed that decision was made!

Tofu said...

possibly now, most people are overly concious of health and safety - and with the possiblity of normal pedestrians being charged for being a good samiratan and spreading the grit, i think people have just turned to minding their own.