Every so often there is some snow in the UK.
Not very often.
Actually it would be probably better to say – about once a year, but actually not even as often as that, about twice every two years – but sometimes we go three or four years in between – we get some snow in the UK
And it usually causes a few problems – we get traffic snarl ups, road closures, public transport problems, and sporting fixtures postponed, Oh and we get schools closed and people sent home from school.
And every time that happens we get something else – people who whinge about how the snow causes so much difficulty when we have so little of it.
Predictable lines are as follows :
How is it that [ Canada / Russia / Germany / Norway / insert country that gets more snow than us ] can have [ 12 feet / 18 feet / insert improbably large depth ] of snow EVERY DAY for three years, and the trains aren’t even 5 minutes late once – but when we get [ a few centimetres / millimetres / a light dusting / insert improbably slight amount ] of snow everything GRINDS TO A HALT
Back in 1963, our school never closed – we used to walk to school through 100 foot high snowdrifts and if we were 2 minutes late our teacher used to hit us with a big stick and we’d say thankyou; but nowadays they close every school at the drop of a hat.
When Stanley Matthews wor a lad, they used to play football even when the snow was up to their necks; and the balls were made of pigs bladders filled with concrete; and the crowds were 80,000 strong, and sometimes it was so cold that they couldn’t move from the terraces because their feet had frozen to the spot; but they clapped every goal and then walked home forty miles in a blizzard; nowadays they call off every game at the merest hint of a snow flake.
You get the picture ?
Well the fight back starts here.
You want to know why snow causes problems ? Want to know why we don’t all have snow chains for our cars ? Want to know why we don’t grit the roads three or four times every night between September and May ?
Easy – it’s because it hardly ever happens, and when it does it rarely lasts longer than a day or so.
Want to save a bit of your car maintenance budget ? – Easy ! – don’t get winter tyres or snow chains – I’ve never had any in my whole life – because I’ve never really needed them
Want to keep council spending down ? Easy ! – don’t waste it all on salt and grit that usually gets washed away before the snow lands, and tends to make everyone’s cars rust a bit quicker.
Want to keep your costs down in your football stadium ? Well postpone a game or two every couple of years – and don’t switch that expensive under soil heating on.
Snow tends to give us all a bit of excitement once every blue moon, something we can tell our kids about in years to come. It really doesn’t inconvenience us much though in the long run.
So to answer the points above –
How come those countries can carry on when they have loads of snow ? Easy – it’s because they invest a lot of time and effort in doing so – because it makes economic sense because they get loads of snow. We don’t – because it doesn’t and we don’t.
How come the schools stayed open in 1963 and they all close now ? Well lots of schools did close in 1963 – but many of them didn’t because most of their pupils lived within walking distance – which they had to because most people did not have cars. Today pupils can travel several miles to a school – and staff often travel far further due to the mobility – both geographical and social – that the car has given us. The big problem in a school is ending up in a situation where you have children who can not be supervised properly because staff have been unable to get to work.. There is also a great deal of pressure on schools to let parents know a school is closed as soon as possible – and schools do sometimes have to close on a probable threat of further snow rather than waiting for it to happen. My kids are now in the 6th form – I think this has happened maybe four times since they started school when they were 5. Hardly a massive inconvenience – they loved every one of those “snow days”.
“Snow days” by the way is one of those expressions we’ve borrowed from the big snow countries – where extra days are built into the school year because they know that they’ll probably have to close several times.
And what about the sport ? How did they they manage to keep going back then ? Well – they didn’t !
In the much talked about winter of 62/63 there was barely any Football, Rugby League, or Rugby Union played in England or Scotland between late December and February – some FA Cup ties were re-arranged more than 10 times.
In the UK only one Horse racing meeting took place in Scotland, with none at all in the other nations, between 23rd December and 7th March – with 97 race meetings cancelled.Today in 2013 on the day after the most significant snow falls of the year throughout the country, not a single Premier League or Championship match has been postponed – and fans have been able to travel throughout the country to watch those games, on motorways that have been open throughout the day.
So we do pretty well actually – we could do a lot better – but it’s really not worth it – it doesn’t happen often and it’s rarely around for long.
Now excuse me I’m off to build a snowman before it all melts