Why we should appreciate winter and the occasional snow fall

Who would drive a gritting lorry, eh? What a thankless, anti-social task.

Other than bankers and traffic wardens, these poor souls must be the most unpopular people in the country.

Well, for about two days a year that is. The two days a year that everyone loses perspective.

Yes, the Great British penchant for moaning about the weather returned with a vengeance this weekend.

A heavy (but predicted) snow-storm hit North Staffordshire and South Cheshire around Saturday teatime – bringing gridlock to parts of our road network.

The Met Office had issued severe weather warnings but still many reacted with incredulity – as if a new Ice Age had sneaked up on them.

Motorists sat in queues of traffic for hours on end as blizzard conditions enveloped them.

The A50, the A34 and the D-Road came to a standstill as football traffic leaving the Britannia Stadium drove into a whiteout.

Where were the gritters, people wondered? (As if it would have made any difference).

The question they should have been asking, of course, is: Why are we so woefully inept at coping with a bit of snow now and again?

Why do we fail to fit winter tyres to our cars? Why do we act like it’s the end of the world when we see a few snowflakes?

In the wake of Saturday night’s snow storm, the local authorities will doubtless cop a load of flak for not preparing our roads properly.

Indeed, I await the inevitable backlash via The Sentinel’s letters pages about the inconvenience of it all.

To be fair, we’ve had the mildest winter since Adam was a lad – weeks and weeks and weeks of overcast skies and rain.

Personally, I’d rather have a covering of the white stuff any day.

The truth is, I’ve been waiting for about two months for some snow and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

I suspect, however, this puts me in a very small minority.

The problem is that, as a nation, we simply haven’t a clue how to act when we do have the odd flurry.

What’s more, sadly, most people have absolutely no appreciation of winter.

They sit in their centrally-heated homes, watching summer holiday adverts on the telly and looking balefully out of the windows as if the very pavement has suddenly become a death-trap and the roads a total no-go zone.

I’m pretty sure that when Sammy Cahn wrote Let It Snow back in 1945, this attitude wasn’t what he was trying to evoke.

Yes, I know it’s no fun stuck in a traffic jam. We’ve all been there. Yes, you have to be careful not to trip, drive slowly, wrap up warm, allow a little more time for journeys and travel prepared.

But, by the same token, a snowfall shouldn’t equate to the end of civilisation as we know it.

It’s certainly not an excuse to raid the emergency store of Fray Bentos corned beef.

You see, I’m convinced that it’s only in the UK that we view winter with such fear and loathing. Other nations undoubtedly scoff at our nesh-ness (my word) and laugh at the way in which everything grinds to a halt with a covering of snow.

Why can’t we learn to love winter? I don’t know how anyone can fail to wake up and not appreciate the sun-kissed majesty of a crisp frost.

Have we all forgotten what it’s like to be children? Have we forgotten that snow equals fun?

Have we forgotten listening to Radio Stoke while crossing our fingers and hoping to hear that our school has been closed because the boiler’s packed in?

Are our hearts so hard that we are untouched by the gift of a fresh blanket of snow which makes any tired old street look like a picture postcard?

I actually travel to Scotland annually to seek out the white stuff. What’s more, when I took my kids to Lapland last year to meet Father Christmas, a huge part of the attraction for all of us was proper, deep snow.

People moan incessantly about the cold over here, but the truth is, we don’t know we’re born.

When I was in Finnish Lapland, just inside the Arctic Circle, the temperature dropped to as low as minus 26 degrees celsius.

To be honest, nobody noticed how cold it was until we got back to the hotel. We were too busy sledging, driving snowmobiles, building snowmen and pelting each other with snowballs.

I remember looking out of the lodge windows at the pine trees and the moon-lit snow and thinking that there couldn’t be a more beautiful sight.

What a shame we don’t appreciate it round our neck of the woods…

Read my Personally Speaking columns every Tuesday in The Sentinel

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