Tag Archives: snow

Britain is closed for business

Almost as if to prove my point, Britain has been deluged with snow overnight, and everybody is over the moon about it. This can only be the result of two things:

1. Nobody felt any need whatsoever to clear the pavement outside their house, to put salt down, or to take any action which may make it easier for people to walk past their house. Instead, most people will have gathered at their front window (possibly with popcorn or other suitable snacks) and watched happily as a constant stream of people fell on their arseass outside.

2. The UK rarely gets snow that doesn’t melt within three seconds of falling, and as a result is uniquely unprepared for a proper snowstorm. Trains have been cancelled, buses can’t run, and most people appear to have lost the use of their feet. Duly, most of Britain is closed down today, with workplaces apparently half full at best. It’s like an impromptu public holiday, without the need to sit in traffic for four hours en route to see your in-laws.

Typically on Britain’s first proper snow day in living memory, I’m in snow free New York. My journey to work won’t be impeded, the trains will be running, and I should be in the office on time. Where’s the justice?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Living in the UK, I used to love snow. We didn’t seem to get it very often, to be fair, hence the unprecedented excitement about whether a few drops would fall on the Met Office’s roof on December 25th (the official British definition of ‘a white Christmas’, apparently). But back in my childhood, we’d all head out into the street and play until every last bit of virgin snow had been trodden in or thrown.

Even as an adult, snow in Britain was still an occasion that brought a smile to my face. Sure, I wasn’t throwing snowballs any more (well, not that often anyway), but what’s not to like about the way that the sun reflects off newly fallen snow, or the sight of trees capped with flurries of white. OK, so the occasional train got cancelled, or you might fall on your arseass infront of a big group of people waiting for a bus now and then, but it’s a small price to pay for walking in a winter wonderland.

Now that I live in the US, all that joy has been taken away. Kids still play in the freshly fallen snow, and the setting sun still glows like never before. But now when I see snow, all I see is stuff that has to be moved out of the way so that nobody sues me for all my life savings and my priceless collection of Beano annuals.

See, in the UK, nobody other than businesses really bother to shovel snow from the area around their building. Everybody else just accepts that if you fall on snow outside somebody’s house, you get up, brush yourself down, and move on quickly while hoping that nobody has noticed. Especially not that girl from number 18.

But no, the United States has to take all the joy out of snow. When I notice snow falling as I go to bed, I don’t dream of carefree snowball fights with The Young Ones the following day – I just think about the twenty minutes I’m going to have to spend getting rid of the stuff, or have nightmares about the person who falls and accidentally impales themselves on a stray twig that had coincidentally dropped from the tree above only moments before.

Maybe I’m missing something here. After all, it snows all the time during the winter on the East Coast, so you’d think people would be used to it by now. And contrary to popular belief, snow is not invisible – it’s not as if you can complain that you didn’t know it was there, or that it can sneak up on you when you’re least expecting it. It’s like blaming somebody for the fact that your hair got wet after it started raining while you were walking past their house.

Folks, it’s time to put the fun back into snowfall. Snow is our friend – a cheery visitation that puts everybody in mind of their responsibility-free childhood days. A time to treasure the fact that you can put handfuls of the stuff into somebody’s hood, and then watch in ill-disguised mirth as they unwittingly pull it over their head. It is not a reminder that you need to check your insurance details, or the cost of late night flights to Rio.

Actually, scratch that last one. With snow and freezing cold enveloping New York at the moment, a nice caipirinha on the beach at Copocabana seems pretty damn tempting right now I can tell you.