Thursday, 2 December 2010

A Spot of Bad Weather

Here we go again. In the winter, the weather turns cold and there is snow in varying amounts in various places and general chaos ensues; schools are closed, transport is disrupted and gross Domestic Product (GDP) drops by 2%. And The Ministry of Alarm and Despondency (MAD) is caught unawares yet again.
Now then, this might just be a function of a faulty memory or the rosy glow of youth remembered but, as I recall it, it always got cold and snowed during winter in the North East where I grew up but I don't remember school closures or transport chaos, or even anyone being surprised by it. Even during the winter of 1963 which went on for ages. Of course, as a youth one enjoyed the snow and ignored any inconvenience caused by it - I was always fortunate enough to have a warm house to return to despite not having central heating. We had a fire.
Any road up, I think part of the reason we get so hysterical about it these days may be because there is now a lot more transport to get disrupted than there used to be. Forty or fifty years ago, not everybody had a car, there weren't so many roads, and people didn't usually drive to work anyway or make very long journeys to work. People lived and worked locally and got the bus or the train - of which there were more, and they were cheaper to use. Teaching and other school staff also tended to live near to their schools and so could get to work more easily. Whereas a journey of 10 miles was considered quite unusual in 1963, it's fairly routine now. So there's more potential these days for disruption. Even so, having 7,000 schools closed today seems a bit much; that's almost a third of all schools!

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