Saturday, 19 January 2013

Whoops, snowpocalypse!

The end of the world as we know it?
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a proprietor in possession of a tabloid must be in constant want of a sensational story.

In the UK, the Daily Express, having discovered that new Diana stories are in generally short supply these days, has of late decided that's it's best shot of drumming up sales is by changing it's name from the Diana Excess to the Snow Express, within which pages it has been gleefully predicting cataclysmic snowfall for at least two months.

Well folks, they finally got it right. It's here now.


In January.

In northern Europe.

Dirty Dickie Desmond finally has a story that's right. Well, sort of.

Amazingly enough, it's a tad inconvenient, but doesn't seem to be marking the end of life as we know it.

London, of course, has gone into meltdown, but then that happens at the mere sight of a snowflake.

In man ways, the country isn't prepared, but then how do you prepare for something that might happen for a couple of days a year - sometimes more, but sometimes not even that.

Funnily enough, relaxing in my hotel room in Sheffield, where I'm working this weekend, I found myself watching a re-run of a black and white programme about the 1962-63 winter.

With Cliff Michelmore's reassuring tones, it was a timely reminder of what really serious snow is like.

There is, in my family, a picture of my mother, taken just a few days before my birth in December 1962. It was a country lane in the leak Eden Valley, not far from home in Tebay, I imagine. She is pictured standing in the middle of the road, with snow on side side up to the top of the telegraph poles.

That was a winter.

Perhaps popping into the world in such conditions is why I feel that the snow has such an emotional pull on me. Much as I might love Mediterranean warmth, I still dream of moonlight on a transformed landscape; the bright whiteness smeared with blue shadow.

The monochrome timelessness of it is magical and mystical and, in ways that no other type of weather seems to do, it makes the world feel very, very old, as if snow were the first weather the world knew.

The coldness too can exhilarate - and it's at least a million miles preferable to the depressing greyness that we've endured for so much of the last year.

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