As some parts of the country got snow at the end of last week, I felt a little sad that all Look North had to hype up their regular weather-based hysteria about was the predicted storm surge down the East Coast. As the on-the-spot reporter tried to vamp what was basically a very windy day into Scarborough’s very own Hurricane Katrina by saying there were “scenes of devastation” and then letting the camera pan to his left to see an overturned bin, I couldn’t help but feel that we’d been somewhat cheated.
That’s not to say that I would wish flood-damage or any other kind of weather-related distress upon anyone but when I see that other areas of the country have had some snow, my inner child, never far from the surface, sulks that we haven’t had a deluge of the white stuff.
I know that once we grow up we’re supposed to moan about how it’s such a hassle getting to work in the snow and ice, and say things like, “It looks nice but it’ll be slush and muck in a day or two,” but for me snow still brings back visions of days off school due to broken boilers or buses being cancelled, followed by messing about with mates having snowball fights instead of sitting in class trying to learn Maths.
One snowfall, this time as an adult, sticks most in my memory. I think it was about 20 years ago and I had, for some reason or another, called in sick at work. In my defence, I’m sure I was very ill, or tired, or hungover. One of those. Anyway, I was having a little rest and spending quality time with the dog. As fate would have it, that dog is no longer alive, so anyone who thinks I’m a lazy, workshy, idler is a callous so-and-so with no feelings for my late pet and if I had my way the RSPCA would kick your door in and throw mice at you.
So there I am. Me and the dog. At home. And enjoying each other’s company by saying things like “We did right to have a walk early because it looks like it might snow,” to each other when, sure enough, at about one o’clock it started to snow.
And this wasn’t just that feeble snow that is more annoying than exciting. It was the sort of snow that makes you stand at the window and say to anyone who’ll listen “Look at the size of those flakes!” In my case it was the dog who was on the receiving end of my commentary. He kept nodding sagely as I would look outside and then turn to him and say “It’s laying!” or “I’m going to put the fire on as well as the heating!” and “Look at those poor souls out in it!”
The next hour passed, me relating the story of the deepening snow to the dog and the dog looking interested. But not interested enough for my liking so I pulled out the big guns – “I’m going to put Radio Leeds on!” And I did, and we listened, with our ears of varying furriness, as the full horror/brilliance unfolded. Apparently the snowfall had caught everybody out. It wasn’t just unexpected but it was incredibly heavy and not even the main roads had been gritted.
Which explained why, by three o’clock, cars were being abandoned on Dewsbury Road as their drivers couldn’t control them, spinning on what had become like an ice rink, wheels frantically churning by gaining no purchase. It was now Snowmageddon. People walking past the window (where inside we were enjoying a balmy temperature of about 80 degrees fahrenheit – me in a t-shirt and the dog in a collar) had taken on the appearance of Von Paulus’s defeated German invaders as they struggled in their own personal Stalingrads.
Never one to miss an opportunity to find enjoyment in other people’s misery, I kept the kettle constantly boling so that I could stand in the window, in my t-shirt, and raise a warming cup of coffee as a sign of greeting to each dispirited soul who went up the street. And so it went on until evening time when it finally stopped and the temperature rose enough for the snow on the roads to melt and the gritters to get out. (“Gritters are out!” is another great thing to say when looking out of windows).
The next day I went into work. Not through any sense of duty or because I enjoyed the job but because I wanted to hear people’s tales of woe. I knew from the local news that multitudes had been stranded and I wanted to hear, first-hand, how they’d got on. I wasn’t to be disappointed.
There were a lot of people who’d had to walk home due to the buses stopping running, or because they couldn’t get their cars on the road, but the real bonus was that two people had had to stay overnight in a hotel and one person had ended up (after rather ambitiously trying to walk from Headingley to Halifax in a blizzard!) staying at a complete stranger’s house.
Confirming my theory on these matters, everyone was really chirpy, telling their stories of how they had battled the great storm and a wonderful espirit-de-corps was felt by those who had battled the elements. If anything, I was a little left out and also slightly put out that, due to everyone talking about the snow, no one asked me if I was feeling better.
And so while I don’t want anyone to get hurt or suffer damage, I want at least one, REALLY GOOD, snowfall this winter. And if you see someone looking out of a window with a dog at their side, just in a t-shirt because the heating’s cranked up to “Benidorm in July”, as you slide and fall and curse and slip again, that’ll be me, raising a cup of cheer to salute your efforts.