Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Snow is the new Hitler...

This small island of 60 million (or so) souls has a reputation for not taking shit from anyone, we have not been invaded by a foreign army since 1066 (the French did for us then) and we always enjoy telling the Europeans how we twice saved them from tyrany in the last century (we omit to mention the tardy influence of the USA in both of those spats), but what Hitler's blitzkreig could not achieve in 1940 can always be managed every winter by a simple and common weather condition - snow.

We don't get proper snow in the UK anymore, not what my dad would call snow anyway, the way he talks of the winters in his youth makes me imagine polar bears roaming the streets of Leeds for months on end, we have four or five months of temperatures in the 0 to 10 degree (centigrade) range, somedays wet somedays not, often our winters are described as "dry" by meteorologists and you know that if they are calling the winter "dry" in March then we are in for water shortages in the summer, the UK is turning tropical and on average we only get a few days each winter where the weather drops below freezing.

Today is one of those days. Yesterday was a nice balmy day, cool but not cold, I didn't bother with a coat when I went to the rugby match yesterday. Today its cold, cold enough to snow, and we've had what we laughingly describe as snow today.

Those of you in Canada or Scandinavia would not have even noticed that it snowed here today, but it did. By 10am there was definitely some white powder in the garden, it had melted again by noon, but a few flakes fell later on in the day and the car now (8pm) has a coating of ice on the windscreen - today is our winter.

The forecast for this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow morning is for snow, lots of it, all down the eastern coast of England, its predicted that chaos will ensue and people are being urged not to go out of doors tonight if at all possible, and certainly to curtail any long distance travel plans.

Which sort of buggered up our long distance travel plans today. As I mentioned yesterday we were supposed to be making the 100 mile trip up to Newcastle today to see the wifes family, and even though we rang her sister this morning, and even though she said there was no snow there yet, we decided to cancel our trip becaus eof the threat of heavy snow.

Heavy snow, according to the Met Office is anything more than 2cm - about three quarters of an inch to thos enon-metric people - three quarters of an inch of snow totally screws this country up and if we get three quarters of an inch of snow tonight then the motorways will certainly be blocked.

I can hear Canadians and Scandinavians pissing themselves laughing now, but here in this country we do not understand snow, here in this country our road services are not prepared for snow, they should be because we've know about it for 24 hours now, but no snow ploughs or salt trucks will be visible on our roads until the snow melts. So tonight and tomorrow the roads and motorway users will sink to the level of the dumbest driver, which is the reason why I was so happy to cancel our trip up north.

You see you can drive as careful as you like, you can take all precautions, we don't use snow chains in this country (ask for snow chains in a main dealers and they'll look at you as if you've just grown another head), but you can do everything right except fit snow chains, and you'll still get held up for five hours on a motorway because some smartarse BMW driver thought his overpriced German Ford could still do 80mph on a quarter inch of snow, even when it started going sideways.

I needed to be back in Leeds tomorrow afternoon and the truth is that if the snow does fall tonight then I cannot guarantee that I'll be able to get back tomorrow afternoon - bloody sad indictment that isn't it ? Hitler couldn't stop this island in 1940 and he threw everything at us then, but if he'd had a quarter inch of snow at his disposal then a handfull of troops from his eastern front could have walked into Parliament Square completely unopposed and found Churchill still snowed in in Downing Street.

PS - just looked out of the back door - its snowing, you Canadians and Scandinavians wouldn't notice it, but it is.

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