Snow joke

It's nice to see that in the short time since I left the UK, the economy has continued its downward spiral, and now the country has ground to a halt because of snow. Or, more precisely, the south-eastern corner of the country where the media are based has ground to a halt.

I'm always amused by Britain's inability to cope with weather. We talk about it all the time, but the authorities don't seem to have any idea how to prepare for heavy snow, or rain, or wind, or high temperatures, or low temperatures, or anything much. As soon as conditions move outside our meteorological comfort zone, everyone and everything stops.

Now I've sampled a month of Canadian winter, I'm even less sympathetic. St John's is a fairly small city, and the weather is pretty variable as the warm, wet Gulf Stream battles with the cold, but also wet, Labrador Current. It's no surprise that this is the foggiest, windiest city in Canada, and one of the wettest, snowiest and cloudiest too*. Yet they seem to cope pretty well with it all. When the snow comes down in heaps, out come the ploughs and the gritters. It's not perfect, as my posts about being a winter pedestrian testify, but battling the elements never is.

To hear Boris Johnson defending the total shutdown of the London bus service is therefore quite amusing. Apparently, he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that "unleashing a 12-tonne bus on to heavily packed snow or ice" would risk "turning it into a lethal weapon" (The Grauniad). On Saturday night/Sunday morning here, there was a blizzard, and many inches of snow fell. By midday, the buses were running again. Of course, experience enables you to deal with risk, but perhaps we Brits should take a closer look at how Canadians cope with winter, and factor some of it into our planning and infrastructure. If St John's can manage it, then surely a city with the resources London has can manage it too?

*If you're interested in weather stats for all Canadian cities, go here.
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