Sunday, 10 January 2010

A black and white case

I am still struggling to decide whether all this snow in the UK is doing us any good or not. I have heard say that it's proof against the global warming theory, but I'm afraid that is rather short sighted. The fact is southern Europe is getting the mild winter we normally have and we are getting this icy stuff off Scandinavia (which is fast going down in my opinion).

On the one hand, the snow has brought out things which we were quite happy to have left in the closet. One example is the dreadful capacity we have for scaring ourselves senseless through the media. But that's not all. Think about this. The lack of grit for roads and the potential problems of gas supply show exactly what kind of a penny-pinching nation we have become ... not that it has done us any good in the long run either. We are a beanocracy, i.e. run by the beancounters who are as mean-spirited as Chesterton's Grocer:

God made the wicked Grocer
For a mystery and a sign,
That men might shun the awful shops
And go to inns to dine;
Where the bacon's on the rafter
And the wine is in the wood,
And God that made good laughter
Has seen that they are good.

All that said - and it is already quite a lot - the snow has definitely brought about something which you rarely witness in the suburbs where I live: people have started talking to one another ... cheerily ... as if they are mental patients - errr -normal, well-balanced and full of community spirit. Okay, a lot of the comments are about the weather, but that is what were famed for talking about. But this is fascinating really. Bad conditions force people to be attentive to others. Difficulties experienced by everyone tend to drive us out of our shell. Empathy becomes imaginable once more. There are connections made which our normally self-contained lives do not otherwise allow.

Of course, I speak as a suburbanite. These things have probably never been forgotten in some places. In others they probably shade quite easily into the vices of community life .... the gossip, the peer pressure, the long-term grudges. But how refreshing all the same. Is it better to have a grudge against someone rather than be practically ignorant of their existence, rather than being in a position to take any responsibility for them? Some would say a grudge is at least proof that you once cared!

Add all that to the possibility of a few days extra away from the office, and I think you'll agree we should welcome these vile conditions with open arms. God bless global warming if this is what it means. Perhaps Hippoyte Taine was right to some extent: our geography and weather have a remarkable capacity to shape us, not because we're determined like sugar and vitriol - pace Taine - but because it gives us other choices to make. And who is to say that Britain is not in need of other choices than the ones served up by our godforsaken, consummerist beanocracy?

Bless the weather that brought you to me, as the drunk with an untuned guitar once sang.


  1. Good afternoon, Innocent and thanks for a terrific post.
    Yes the old Red Triangles are out again at the BBC with dramatic gestures from the Weather boys and girls and even more dramatic language from those sad looking reporters chosen to stand in the many Gritting depots round the UK.
    Why even on Skynews there was a 10 minute slot on how to drive your car on an icy road-hmm.

    However the bad weather can and does bring out the best in most of us and that has to be good.

    There is a spoof web site called (something like that) which is along the lines of "On the Hour" (A Radio 4 comedy programme. Anyway feel free to have a look at the news item on the big freeze and TV Newscrew - it is quite amusing and oh so true.

    Enjoy the rest of your day




    (Sunday 10th Jan 2010 BST 14.44pm)

  2. Pious anecdote relevant to sedentary professions: Bl. Honorat Koźmiński grew hefty from the amount of time he spent sitting in the confessional.


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