Weather woes provide a stark reminder of how robotic we’ve become

Traffic comes to a halt on Prince of Wales in Norwich. Photo: Simon Finlay.

Traffic comes to a halt on Prince of Wales in Norwich. Photo: Simon Finlay. - Credit: Simon Finlay

Having been up that London for the weekend – where the golden pavements were conspicuously snow-free – I returned to Norwich on Tuesday evening and stumbled straight into Snowmageddon.

A full 11cm of snow had fallen, instantly incapacitating an entire county.

As I walked home from the train station, there were bleak scenes: abandoned cars, desperate spiritless people stumbling homewards, the distant sound of sirens – it was like living in Liverpool all over again.

At any moment I expected to see the four riders of the Apocalypse emerging from outside the Forum to herald our entrance to a new sub-zero netherworld where everyone subsists on kebab-flavoured Cup-a-soup made with melted snow and seasoned with grit.

As I made my way, with the dexterity of an arthritic crab, back to the safety of the Golden Triangle, I saw five cars crash, saw three people measure their length on the pavement and heard a man lecture three separate groups of children about the hidden peril of stone-laden snowballs.

To clarify, the standstill was prompted by the kind of snowfall that barely offers you enough ammunition to make a snow pellet, let alone a ball or a snowman.

I knew, therefore, with complete certainty, that my children's school would be closed the next day.

Most Read

When I was a girl, back in the days when a mobile phone meant one you could unplug and take to your new house, we'd have eight feet of snow and Costessey High School would still open.

In mobile classrooms which could have doubled up as emergency morgues, we shivered as we learned about conditions in the trenches which seemed preferable to the conditions at CHS. They bred us tough in those days – last year my kids' school closed because there was ice in the playground, at my school, there was ice on the inside of the windows.

I feel this is what has made me the hardcore, granite-faced pioneer of industry I am today – it was certainly where I learned not to cry at hardship on the basis that the tears would have frozen in my eyes before they fell and I was unattractive enough without the addition of frozen eyeballs.

The only people I feel genuinely sorry for during these periods where an inch or two of snow falls and everything grinds to a halt are the people who genuinely are braving the cold.

The emergency services. Pensioners living on insulting handouts that barely pay for food, let alone heating. The homeless bedding down in car parks while we sit at home with the heating on full-blast moaning about gritters.

It's a few days out of 365 that serve to remind us how robotic we've become if you take away our cars, the free childcare offered to us by schools and our ability to do whatever we like, when we like as often as we like.

In the blink of an eye it'll be summer and we'll be whingeing about the roads melting, the queues for car parks at the seaside and the fact there's probably a hosepipe ban on. Weather, eh? Moaning would be so much harder without it.