One flake of snow and Britain grinds to a halt

Well, it’s that – y’know – snowy time of year again and Britain, as usual, can’t cope worth a damn.

So, the snow’s begun to fall and Britain – true to form – has come to a grinding halt.

What people in Boston, say, make of us, I can’t imagine. It’s only a few inches and yet there’s complete and utter chaos. Half the Underground out, trains not running, Heathrow closed, traffic accidents everywhere. Ye gods. 

Back in the 70s, of course, when they still thought the Earth was cooling down rather than heating up, we used to get weather like this all the time. The snow was so deep in our cul-de-sac that we kids used to make bricks out of it, build two snow walls and spend the day lobbing snowballs at each other from either side of the road. 

Not that, really, we coped with it any better than anyone does now, but we did get on with it. Everyone kept blankets and shovels in their cars as a matter of course. Schools weren’t cancelled no matter what, and I vividly remember sitting there in coat and mittens, stamping my feet to keep warm in unheated classrooms when the boilers broke down, or the fuel couldn’t be delivered (all coal in those days). Probably illegal even then, and certainly illegal now, but few houses had phones and there was no way of contacting parents to say the kids would be coming home, so in school we stayed.

We children used to go and get the oldies’ shopping in (some enlightened planner had placed OAP bungalows at the end of each block of houses, integrating our elderly effortlessly into the community), and all the shops were walking distance, so it hardly mattered that the public transport had seized up completely – the supermarket culture had not yet taken hold and most of us shopped at the local shops.

Oh la – the good old days, eh? What cobblers. It only seems fun in retrospect because we were children. It must have been purgatory for the adults. 

On a brief fashion note, it reminds me that young people today have got no idea how bloody lucky they are to have today’s techno-fabrics, stuff that wicks sweat while it blocks the wind chill, down jackets that weigh nothing at all, lovely colourful wellies.

Back in the 70s we were in heavy wools, thin little parkas with hardly any padding, and crappy little knitted gloves that got soaked right through immediately. Wellies were always black. Most of us in Yorkshire owned a sheepskin coat lined with ‘bump’ (fake fur) and we trudged along in winter like Russian refugees. Heck, I don’t miss that at all.

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