Britain’s spell of cold weather is headline news. Supplies of gas and electricity are under threat, near to capacity at 96%. Residential customers are being given priority over industries. It’s true that the U.K. is always unprepared for extremes of weather, but the present one is creating new records of severity. Temperatures in some parts of the north and in Scotland have fallen to minus 21C. There is a national shortage of grit and salt to clear the roads for which – of course – the government is being blamed.
This is all creating a different way of life. Many if not most schools are closed and looking after children on the loose has become a problem for their parents and at least for a time children are enjoying new freedoms. Whilst some parts of the country are relatively free of heavy falls of snow, in some areas the snow is so deep that people have been marooned in their houses for days that are now turning into weeks. Everywhere it is bitterly cold. Several airports are closed as well as major roads.
People are advised not to undertake long journeys ‘unless absolutely necessary’. ‘Deaths rise as snow and ice grip Britain’ says one newspaper headline.
For one day local buses were grounded in our area, but cautiously began to test the roads yesterday and are running normally today. We went into town this morning and people boarded the bus in a variety of winter clothes, hats especially noticeable. Even older people have gone to wearing the poplar Norwegian caps with long pigtails either side that are all the rage. ‘I can’t stay inside’ one elderly passenger said this morning, and its true that although the first breath of a new day is a shock, there’s a sense of release in getting out – and pleasure in returning to a house hopefully warm. People when they cross each in the street are smiling to each other.
The British are in danger of showing the ‘grin and bear it’ spirit that is supposed to be typical of us!
People’s routines have been brutally affected, and enforced idelness means the livelihood of some is at risk. With fewer responsibilities than many, our own life has become quite fun and much more home-bound than usual. We have been doing some of the jobs we have had in mind for some time, but never got round to. If not exactly indulgent, we have been enjoying our meals more than usual, too. Space for reading. And searching for watchable TV programmes, occasionally with success. And quite enjoying instead of complaining about not being so young as we once were.
More snow, however, is promised for this weekend. The novelty may soon pall!