Ever since Gordon Brown promised to end Global Warning, the British have dripped and shivered their way through a succession of floods, snow blizzards, and freezing temperatures. Perhaps they had grown accustomed to the idea that temperatures would rise inexorably â they seem surprised to find that Gordon was lying again.
In Siberia, they know the snow will arrive and they prepare accordingly â planes still land at airports with -45Â° temperatures. Even in the balmy Dordogne we have three snow ploughs on permanent standby and a fleet of gritting trucks, just in case. In the South of France, the Pyrenees â you know that place you go to lie on the roasting racks in the summer to get brown â they still believe that it might snow in the winter. People buy snow chains for their cars, for fear they might get stuck â and by law in some places. They carry shovels in the winter; they dress appropriately, in case they get caught out. The auto routes have under surface heating which is switched on to allow the road trains which grind up and down through France interminably to keep moving. We have wood burners and a supply of wood, just in case anything happens to the oil supplies; most of us own generators, just in case the electricity fails and our freezer defrosts.
In Britain â six inches of snow creates havoc. The gritters canât get out â snow bound, the roads are clogged with abandoned cars, people spend the night on freezing trains â and the Transport Secretary orders a review of âgritting abilityâ â after the snow has fallen!
A spokesman for the Local Government Association says:
âMost people in this country wouldnât be willing to pay more council tax or see money diverted from other services to spend more on gritting.â
Really? I imagine they would be a damned sight more prepared to pay for efficient gritting than they are to pay for ballet lessons for one legged Somalian pirates â and you donât have any trouble stumping up the cash for similar schemes.
Grid-locked Britain is the laughing stock of Europe today. Perhaps part of the trouble is that the Met Office is now relocated to Exeter â virtually the only town in Britain which has yet to see snow. Which probably explains why, on their web site, they are asking:
If you have seen snow recently, please let us know by using the link below.
Snow in your area?
Go on, you know you want to â let them know whatâs going onâ¦â¦