Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday 16 December 2011

Deep and crisp and even?

Despite the excitable prognostications of the Met Office's finest last night, quite a lot of us didn't wake this morning to a Winter wonderland.

True, there was a bit of soggy-looking snow lying about apologetically in a morning-afterish kind of way, but it's a far cry from that incredible satellite image of the British Isles unbroken white from edge to edge.

However, BBC news had decided the weather would be a major story, so when I tuned in this morning (courtesy of the treadmill at the gym), a shivering reporter was standing on top of the Brecon Beacons to interview a spokesman for Mountain Rescue.

It is a given that any extreme weather event means an interminable series of live reports from regional newsreaders dragged from their warm comfortable desks to the edge of a motorway, a sea-wall or a flood - if it's the latter, they are, of course, contractually obliged to stand ankle-deep in the water.

In this case, editors have had to exercise a certain amount of imagination to make a major news story out of an inch or so of slush and ice; this seemed largely to consist of finding a suitable hilltop - I imagine the rescue services will be less than delighted should they be called out to the aid of the camera crew intent on finding a snowdrift into which they can deposit their hapless reporter.

Two years ago, when a few inches of snow brought the UK to a virtual standstill, I was in Alberta (with downtown Calgary under 5 feet of snow and daytime temperatures of -30C in the Rockies). The valiant attempts by Canadian news teams to politely suppress their mirth as the news of UK airport closures rolled in is a spectacle I shall always cherish.

I'd love to know what they would make of today's reports.

For a reminder of just how spectacular snow can be, there's an astounding collection of Snow Sculptures over at Nourishing Obscurity.


  1. Some years ago I worked for a national motoring organization. One winter there were reports of storms and high winds, our media lass went to meet the BBC at Holland Park as they wouldn't travel any further, too dangerous you know!

    Sadly for them there were no high winds, so they stood behind her and tugged on her open umbrella.

    Got to get that story!

  2. I'll think of that next time I see a reporter struggling with an unruly umbrella; it makes you wonder whether the torrential rain they sometimes get sent out in is actually a bloke with a hosepipe just out of shot.

    It's the insult to the viewers' intelligence that gets me; do they really think we need teaching aids?


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