So Britain is about to be hit by the so called “beast from the east”, a chunk of Siberian weather that will bring freezing temperatures, snow and ice. At the end of February! Who would have imagined it? Actually anyone would; it’s still winter and it was more unusual last year when we had very little wintery weather. Yet the imminent arrival of any weather other than calm, mild and settled seems to set off panic alarms amongst people while the country’s media fall over themselves to declare it as if they’re talking about the end of the world. Whether the weather is an “Artic blast” or a “tropical heatwave” one thing we can definitely be assured of is that it’s a “crisis” and – oh yes – there will be “chaos”.
|An Arctic Blast. This bloke should be wearing a hat.|
And the fact is that there’s not much you can do. Politicians, journalists and people of influence hate extreme weather of any sort because even at their wiliest they can do absolutely nothing about it. No editorial or speech can halt the weather, no trending on Twitter will stop it snowing or the Sun baking the pavement. It is in fact the only subject that public opinion can never change. Faced with such a thing these people declare it is a “crisis” though most of the time only they consider it to be because they can’t do anything about it.
The funny thing is the actual weather more often than not turns out to be nowhere near as extreme as predicted. We never did have that “hottest summer since 1976” predicted last year did we?
Could it be too that the weather only reaches crisis proportions when London and the South East is threatened? I’ve known instances of bad winters and scorching summers that affected other parts of the country and somehow the headlines were a little less frenetic, the response a little less urgent. If snowflakes drift over Westminster itself of course, then send for the army and convene COBRA.
The old paper newspapers are the best at this sort of thing; in fact I have a theory that the only reason these creaking publications are still going is because people love their outrageous headlines. Admittedly most of these come from the exaggerated stories the Daily Express loves to print alarming us every day about something or other. The best one they ever did one year was to start the summer with the declaration “Another Washout Summer on the Way”. Not long afterwards they predicted “Heatwave to Last All Summer”! Even when they get it right they can’t resist lathering on the doom and gloom. It’s not just floods its “Flood Chaos”, the temperatures are not low, it’s a “Killer Freeze”. Is it just a storm? Nah, it’s a “Monster Storm” of course. It would be nice if one time they just run a headline that says “Boring mild but slightly breezy day today”.