Snow turns a ‘can do’nation into wimps
‘Can’t do’ Britain grinds to a halt with a spell of bad weather
This missive comes to you from Monsieur Angry. Here he sits, stuck in the charmless cabin of a British Airways Boeing 767, on the ground at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris – for an estimated threeand-a-half hour delay.
The aircraft is primed, ready to roll. Just one problem. England is closed. In fact, it has hardly been open for about a
week now. Some 7 000 schools were shut last week, numerous villages cut off and transport links severed.
Survival stories more akin to expeditions to the South Pole have been emerging, like tales from previously believed lost humans in an ice-age freeze. One man took 28 hours to travel from London to Brighton, a journey that is about as far as travelling from Cape Town to Stellenbosch.
Others found themselves trapped on trains that slithered to a halt and did not move for a day or more. The cause of all this chaos was snow.
Now railways in Britain have long had a reputation for producing the daftest excuses imaginable for delays. One once blamed “the wrong kind of leaves on the line” in autumn, another, “the wrong kind of snow”.
This time it’s fog and snow. Maybe it’s the right kind, maybe the wrong, but it’s just another of the climatic challenges that regularly prove far too much for those who try to run Britain.
A nation that made its reputation as a “can do” kind of country sufficient even to muddle through a world war as eventual victors, simply can’t do anything these days.
Giant machines flying over Britain pumping out billions of tons of fake snow or evil fog would have had Britain on its knees in hours. If only old Adolf had known...
A sense of enterprise and spirit seems to have gone awol from Britain. One school headmaster was astonished to find that, having managed to drive 40km from his home to his school over icy, snowy roads in the county of Kent, the school drawn from pupils in the immediate vicinity, had remained shut.
A few years back, together with some friends, I went tobogganing one snowy day. A friend hurtled down the hill, somehow caught his leg in the steel bar beneath the sledge and broke it badly. We had a choice: wait for an ambulance and let him suffer in agony for who knows how long, or, adapting to the conditions, use them in our favour. We carefully strapped him to the toboggan and pulled him over the snow covered fields and streets to a nearby hospital. He arrived long before any official rescue could have helped.
Now the feared ’Elf and Safety commissars would doubtless throw up their hands in horror at such an act. The ability to negotiate difficulties, to think outside the box and orchestrate a strategy to deal with prevailing conditions or circumstances, seems beyond contemporary Britons.
Their lives have become so regimented, so structured by such absurdities as the Health and Safety Act that they have become like ants, only able to operate at the command of their leader.
Few seem able to think for themselves, find another way to exist and perhaps use some inventive powers to circumnavigate a difficulty thrown before them.
Britain is hardly a Third World country but it sometimes acts like it.
While other nations of northern Europe such as Germany and the Scandinavian countries, which are often prone to far heavier falls of snow, manage to maintain their businesses and go about their everyday lives, gormless Britain grinds to a halt.
Yet of all the countries of the world, this one was once regarded as one of the most inventive on the planet. It produced brilliant human beings with outstanding minds and characters by the thousands yet today the Brits struggle to think on their feet, even if they’re keeping them on a snow-covered path.