A common complaint levelled against Britain is the weather. Speaking personally, I don’t mind it. I’m a cold-weather person myself. When it gets hot I either tend to get snappy and irritable or – to the relief of all – suffer from heat stroke. I overheat incredibly easily. In short, cold = good. What I’ll agree on, though, is that we tend to get our weather at the wrong time. We’ll get a sudden heatwave in September, or a week of rain in August. Most irritating of all is our snow. This never comes when it should, at least not in London. When we get proper snow (that is, snow that lies on the ground as opposed to the lame five-minute flurry that melts on impact), it’ll usually be in February or November or some other time when it does nothing but annoy.
Despite numerous Hollywood portrayals of rosy-cheeked carol singers huddled under a gas lamp in the snow at Christmas time (oh, hey Bridget Jones’ Diary, I didn’t see you there), white Christmases don’t really happen here. Of all the major population centres of Britain, we have by far the lowest number of white Christmases. The highest, by the way, is Aberdeen. This is largely due to the fact that London is a city of seven million people, countless animals and God-only-knows how many machines and electrical devices, all of which produce heat. And I’m afraid to say, all you people who live in less populous and colder climes who put money on it this year, white Christmases are measured from London (if a snowflake lands on the roof of the London Weather Centre on 25th December, it’s officially a white Christmas). Also, unlike many of its neighbours, Britain is warmed by the Gulf Stream, making white Christmases even less likely. Bing Crosby can dream all he likes. So.
That meant that last Monday, when we not only had snow but had it lie, was particularly unusual. I love the snow. I think it’s one of those rare occasions when it’s justifiable to regress to childhood. Others being Halloween, Christmas and birthdays, if your childhood involved heinous amounts of alcohol (mine did).
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees. There’s always a lot of moaning when it starts snowing. And yeah, okay, it delays the trains and means a lot of places have to close, but still, snoooooow! I mean, come on, at least it gives you an excuse not to go into work.
Oh, and inevitably we had the papers getting all snarky about claims that trains were held up because the snow was too fluffy. The media, of course, like this sort of thing because it means they can sneer at the railways. In fact, fluffy snow is not a stupid excuse. The reason fluffy snow causes so much trouble on the railways is that the flakes are small and light enough to get sucked in through electric trains’ air intakes and thus into the workings. AND NOW YOU KNOW.