Britain Sees Snow for the First Time – Again

IMG_0058We had some snow, a couple of weeks ago.  Soft, white powder sifted out of a dark grey sky all day, without stopping.  Eventually, the dusting on the ground and roofs thickened to a cloak, and muffled the city sounds.  I love snow.  The crunching under my boots, the sensation of cleanliness, the crisp air.  I start listening to Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique and other “snow soundtracks.”  I wear a thick pair of Irish wool socks inside my only footwear that is really snow proof – a pair of black Wellington boots.  No – not the trendy ones, that bear a label with another word for “pursuer” right below the knee, and that all the London bright young things are now wearing at the first few drops of rain.   These ones, I bought from a Cambridge camping/army shop, and cut down to calf-length with a pair of kitchen scissors, in preparation for a winter trip to Wisconsin, about twelve years ago.  Wisconsin, in a place where the snow was high and the squirrels gargantuan, where I caused much vocal excitement among the neighbourhood dogs for being the only pedestrian, and where I could not find anywhere to serve me dinner after 7 p.m.  In a place where the landlady of the guest house could not fathom why I considered sweetened pancakes and maple syrup a little sickening (I finally asked her for scrambled egg on toast and she put sugar on the toast!)

IMG_0063

Back to the snow.  I find snow magical and there are few places in the world where snow possesses special, mind-altering powers, as it does in England.  For, indeed, here, it has the power to produce amnesia.  In England, it now snows most winters and yet, every year, the nation reacts as though it has never seen it before.  A few flakes suffice to trigger overwhelming incompetence and disorganisation in the land.  In London, except for the Centre and privileged areas like Chelsea, Kensington and Holland Park, the authorities mysteriously never seem to have enough grit to scatter on the streets.  Where I live, for instance, snow is 5% joy, snowmen and walks in the park (the first day) and 95% contending with icy pavements, trying not to slip and break a limb (the following week).

If you are lucky enough to live in area where grit is abundant, you see the ratherIMG_0065 unaesthetical transformation of fluffy white into brown slush.  When I was in New York, I noticed people spraying something on the snow which made it manageable for pedestrians whilst keeping it white.  Here, we lack the Manhattan sense of style.  In the spirit of no-nonsense practicality, we use unattractive brown grit.

When I lived in Rome, where snow falls ogni morte de papa (literally, “about as often as a pope dies”), when the white stuff did fall from the skies, I saw anti-slip chains on the tyres of many cars.  I have never seen them here.  Here, snow sends public transport into a panic.  Buses are delayed or cancelled and even the Tube can be affected.  I am still trying to figure out how snow can stop underground trains from running…

IMG_0071It is Candlemas.  The snow has disappeared.  Vanished, as though it never happened.

By Shrove Tuesday, our memories will have been wiped cleaned.

Then, next January, when it snows again – snow? What’s snow? How do we cope with it? Oh, dear!

Scribe Doll

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19 Responses to Britain Sees Snow for the First Time – Again

  1. Well, schools are closed because the staff can’t get there… Sue

  2. Tim says:

    No no, you miss the point! We’re British, dammit – not going to let a bit of snow stop us muddling through!

  3. Very funny! I live in a part of New England where every time there’s the least little snowfall, no matter how inconsiderable, dozens of snowplow trucks circle the blocks hour after hour looking to pick up some additional work! And the noise of those plows hitting the pavement constantly can keep you awake all night long. So, I guess it’s all a matter of perspective as to which is worse. Ha! Ha!

  4. I love the notion of a snow soundtrack! I’ve never thought of anything as particularly snowy, aside from Vivaldi’s “Winter.” I think I’ll have to create a new playlist on my digital listening device. Any other recommendations?

    • scribedoll says:

      Er… It’s a personal thing, really. Just music that makes me think of snow. For instance, I tend to listen to Spanish music in the summer. For snowy winters, you could also try Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, if you like opera.

  5. Anna says:

    Bravo, Katia!! This time your post is directly connected with Russia. Because of the theme: SNOW! We are having incredible loads of snow at the moment. We have snow every winter, but not as much as it happens to be this year. Russia is a snowy country as realized by foreigners. And it i really is. And I like it very much. Unlike my 22-year old daughter who wishes she lived in a country with a mild climate without snow at all. As for me, if I had to live in some other place with a different climate what I would miss is SNOW! “I love snow. The crunching under my boots, the sensation of cleanliness, the crisp air” – yes, yes,yes!! Come to Russia and enjoy the snow! As far as this is concerned:” In England, it now snows most winters and yet, every year, the nation reacts as though it has never seen it before. A few flakes suffice to trigger overwhelming incompetence and disorganisation in the land” – haha, it’s quite the same here. The local authorities mysteriously forget how to cope with abundance of snow and there are always some problems every year)). Anyway, thank you for the wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it immensely.

    • scribedoll says:

      My dream is to live in a country with snowy winters and hot, sunny summers. I don’t know where that could be, though.

      Thank you for your lovely comment.

      • Weather is now less predictable, but your dream country would have been the Bavaria of my childhood. Seemingly endless weeks of hot summer with the occasional thunder storm. During winter months the lakes and ponds froze fast, thick and smooth into ideal mirrors for ice-skating. I remember it being sunny and very cold, too cold to affect the snow, which was piled high into walls, making tunnels of roads. No salty slush, grit worked fine. We had spiked tires that made driving save, even on ice, but when people used them on cleared roads the tarmac got damaged. Consequently the magical tires were outlawed. In England I’ve come to accept the curious phenomenon that snow is not faced as a challenge, but instead occasions collective hibernation.

      • scribedoll says:

        Thank you for commenting.

      • seascapesaus says:

        That sounds a bit like France Katia! or parts of southern New South Wales or northern Victoria (in Australia).

      • scribedoll says:

        It’s reassuring to know we’re not the only incompetent ones :–)

      • seascapesaus says:

        I’m sure Britain is not, but I was referring to places with cool clear summers and some snow in winter!

  6. Pattu says:

    Living in far flung Orient, I am in awe of snow. But reading this post, gives me the irritants that can accompany a soft snow fall!

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