Pop Song 2010. (In which I endear myself to no one)


I’m (mostly) only truly cruel when it comes to weather wussiness. I’m not talking about the hundreds of people stranded on the highway near Sarnia who need helicoptering out (seriously, that’s a bad storm), but walking to the bus stop today in ankle-deep snow, the weather people on the radio announced a ‘high of -10°C’ and 5-10cm of snow. And I thought ‘No problem’. And I remembered (yet another) time I made an ass of myself.

It was late December and I was living in Birmingham, curled up with a discounted hot chocolate in a postgraduate lounge that I had only just discovered the existence of and reading my (again) discounted Guardian. And I overheard this:

‘They say it’s going down to -10° this weekend! -10°!’
‘Oh well, at least it’ll be too cold to snow.’

I very suddenly, and unexpectedly, howled with laughter, which, not shockingly, got me a bit of a curious look from the CLEARLY DELUSIONAL pair who, obviously, thought I might be mad as well.

By way of explanation, I offered ‘I’m sorry, but I’m Canadian, and that is absolutely untrue. I’ve seen it snow at -20°C with even colder wind-chill. It’s rare, but it happens.’

I don’t know think that my smug, know-it-allism endeared me to them in any way, so I hid behind my newspaper until they left.

Later that week, I nearly fell off my chair after hearing a newsreader on Midlands Today warning people of ‘drifts of up to an inch’ along one of the motorways. My flatmate knocked on the door to see if I was all right, but she was from Zambia and didn’t really get the joke.

Since then, I have been known to revel in poor weather in the UK, even though I haven’t lived there in six years. I find it bizarre that even a small amount of snow results in tabloid headlines blaming Siberian winds for their current ‘frigid’ (ie -8°C) temperatures. It does snow every year there, but it always comes as a shock (seemingly) and the country shuts down. I especially enjoy when headlines scream ‘TEMPERATURES HIT -18°C!!!’ and they are actually talking about the windchill at the top of Ben Nevis.

I understand panic when it’s an unexpected 10+cm because it’s a country of snowtirelessness, but a bit of slush shouldn’t stop people getting out and doing things, really. And I kind of understand hyperbole about weather, because we do it too. And we do share the British tradition of talking about the weather a LOT. BUT, the U.K. is a nation that excels at, to borrow a now-clichéd bit of propaganda, keeping calm and carrying on through wars and terrorist attacks and Thatcherism (okay, maybe there was less calm there). Why should winter always be such a catastrophe? Get some good boots, put on an extra sweater, and you can do almost anything.

4 thoughts on “Pop Song 2010. (In which I endear myself to no one)

  1. It’s all relative to one’s experience, I guess. Growing up in Ohio–and within the influence of Erie’s “lake-effect snow,” winter weather doesn’t really impress or distress me. Your story of “drift of up to an inch” reminded me of a time when my family visited relatives in Knoxville, Tennessee, for Christmas. They had gotten what, to our eyes, looked like a light dusting of snow, but they gave us a lot of amusement when we saw the news that night: announcers very worried and cars sliding around, out of control.

    For the record, I wandered over from Holidailies, and your smug know-it-allism DID endear you to me.

  2. Liz

    A good friend of mine was born in a town in the West Virginia mountains. Not Canada, by any stretch, but the only ski resort in West Virginia is located there, and they get decent snow.
    And then his dad was transferred to southern Virginia, just in time for kindergarten. And lo and behold when one day in January in southern Virginia it snowed a whole 2 inches. And our hero’s mom sent him out to the end of their (2 whole car lengths long) driveway to wait for the bus. He was wearing snow pants and a parka, with mittens and boots.
    And the bus did not come. Because in southern Virginia, 2 inches of snow causes school to be canceled. And a mother to have child services called on her for sending her child out to wait for the bus.
    Any time my friend wants to harass his mother, he reminds her of the day she “sent me out into the cold and snow to wait for a bus that never came.”

    • admin

      John, my family drove to Florida once in August (yeah, we’re clever), stopping overnight in Knoxville. School had started already because they had ‘dozens’ of snow days and had to make up the time.

      Liz, that story totally made my day. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.