Over recent days, the news has been full of dire warnings. We’ve been urged to batten down the hatches and prepare to be hit hard by what’s being called the Beast from the East! Quite what the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Wladimir Klitschko, would make of the fact that he seems to have lost his nickname to a cold front that has swept in from Siberia is anyone’s guess, but one thing’s for sure: when it comes to weather, it doesn’t take much of a punch to bring Britain to its knees!
To be fair, I should say that here in London it has snowed more in the last 48 hours than it has done for many years. It’s even dropped below zero for a day or two as well! Of course, given that we’re not exactly a Mediterranean country, you might think that we’d be ready for such eventualities. The sad reality, though, is that the first dusting of snow is usually enough to spark a small-scale national emergency. Add a few extra inches and the whole country grinds to a halt!
To anyone who’s had the misfortune of needing to use London Underground this week, the most frequently heard chunk of language will surely have been due to adverse weather conditions! If weather conditions are adverse, they have a negative – and potentially harmful – effect. In the same way, we can talk about celebrities or organisations receiving a lot of adverse publicity if they do something wrong, or a new drug having an adverse effect on patients.
On the tubes, we’ve been told to take care as the floors are slippery due to adverse weather conditions, dejected crowds have been left on freezing platforms as they wait for severely delayed trains, the delays caused, of course, by bad weather. Yes, even on underground lines! Go figure!
Across the country, countless other things occur due to adverse weather conditions. Flights are grounded, and roads are closed; trains are delayed or cancelled, and (maybe, if you’re lucky!) they lay on an emergency bus service to try and get you home. Cars get stuck in the snow and drivers are stranded overnight in their vehicles.
You can imagine how all of this must seem to a Russian or a Swede or even a German! You could be generous and say it’s further evidence of our national eccentricity – or you may just come to the conclusion that we couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery! Why don’t we have snow ploughs out clearing the road? Why don’t people grit the pavements? Why isn’t all the snow just cleared away?
On the plus side, this time next week it’ll probably be raining again!
- What’s the most extreme weather your country has to deal with? Is it usually handled well?
- Have you ever had problems travelling because of bad weather? When? What happened?
- Can you think of anyone in the public eye who’s received adverse publicity recently? Why?
- Have you ever been stranded anywhere? Why? What happened?