A Canadian on British Winters

Thursday 02 February 2012
reading time: min, words

"In Alberta, the earth would have to open up and swallow a city school before it would close. Even then you would only get the afternoon off"

Last Thursday, the airports of this country were closed, the trains were stopped and the schools were shut. Was it an earthquake? A typhoon? Another 7/7? Lupus? WAS IT LUPUS? No, it was two inches of snow.
I have never seen a more ridiculous display in all my life. The snow in Notts had melted by about 3pm the same day, but that didn’t stop the drama queens in the British media from declaring their own national emergency. Most British news websites were filled with stories about the weather and the MAYHEM the DREADFUL conditions were causing. The links below are a few examples from the BBC site alone:
Look at the photos in the second one, the snow doesn’t even go above the kid’s boots. The sheer over reaction to the snow in this city makes Vancouverites look like Winipeggers.
One of the funniest things I saw yesterday was a guy pouring hot water out of his kettle onto his car to melt the ice on his windows. He wasn’t just doing the windshield, but ALL his windows. Water was pouring down the sides of his car, freezing solid shortly thereafter. A chemistry major he was not. Mate, if you are reading this right now, a good way to defrost your now frozen locks is to blow into them. A little Canadian tip from me to you.
Below is a photo of winter in Newfoundland in 2003: 
THAT is a proper storm, people. It actually caused its inhabitants to miss a day or two of work. Of course, being Newfoundland, that was no different than any other week. Newfoundland is like the Liverpool of Canada.
In my home province of Alberta, the earth would have to open up and swallow a city school before it would close, and even then you would probably only get the afternoon off. When I was in Red Deer in grade four (10 years old), we were hit with three FEET of snow overnight in a blizzard. There were broken power poles and live wires lying everywhere, and we STILL had to go to school. We got to leave a few hours early, but that was only because the batteries in the emergency lights started giving out.
When I was telling people in Nottingham this story on Thursday, they would say, “Well, that’s because Canada is prepared for such things, this is a rare occurrence here.” What kind of preparation do you need for two inches of snow? If you have a broom, you are prepared.
The reason the Council gave for closing the schools was that they were worried that the kids might get hurt. What is the worst that could happen? A bruised bum? I didn’t realise British kids were made of glass. Hell, you can’t even gather a decent snowball in two inches. At the same time in Calgary, a foot of snow dropped and temperatures dipped into the -20s. The airport stayed open as usual and no kids died. One or two may have gotten a tummy ache, but I can’t confirm that.
The forecast for the next few days is another couple inches of the white stuff and the temperatures may dip down to - gasp - minus 5! I’m expecting tanks to roll down Mansfield Road and martial law to be invoked. I’m stocking up on beer and pizza just in case.
And to the dude whose lips are now frozen to the side of his car trying to blow hot air into his locks, it serves you right for not reading my column all the way to the end. Hopefully, you have kept some of that hot water in the kettle you’re holding.

When he's not taking his shoes off and sticking them in the freezer box whilst licking on an ice lolly made out of Cup-A-Soups, Rob delivers more cross-cultural insight about Notts in his extremely skill blog, Canuckistani in Limey Land.

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