Get a grip - and get some grit too

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EEH, it wasn’t like this in his day.

Back then, men were men, and so were women.

They weren’t scared of a bit of weather. Dug their way to the pits and to the foundries if they had to. Six miles, they’d trek, through snow eight foot deep, to do a 14-hour day.

Eeh, and the winters were even worse.

He was some grizzled old bloke in the grizzled Brown Bear.

Saturday night. We sat and half-listened, waiting for a taxi which never showed, while the snow came down outside.

It blanketed the earth and, because there’d been half an inch in London, it blanketed the news.

The UK’s worst fall since...ohh, the last time it fell this bad.

Motorways gridlocked. Flights cancelled. Trains delayed. You know, the usual.

The experts had said not to go out unless it was an emergency and we’d thought about it a while and come to the conclusion that a pint and a curry qualified as such on a Saturday evening.

The taxis felt differently. Hardly any were running. We ended up walking to Ecclesall Road to get to our grub.

The old bloke took some satisfaction in that.

“It’ll not kill thee, lad,” he chuckled. “Good for your appetite. Stay for another before you go? Might clear a little.”

We did but it didn’t.

When we left a little while later the pavements were like ice rinks. And yet busy still. We weren’t the only ones who weren’t battening down the hatches. All that snow and all those taxis out of action, and still all these people in search of Saturday night highs.

Kind of reminded me of that Russian proverb: the church is near but the road is icy, the bar is far, but I’ll tread carefully

I like the Russians. They know how to deal with a bit of weather.

They know you need public transport with ploughs, grit stockpiled like skyscrapers and cars with metal-studded tyres. They know cold when they feel it. And they generally start to feel it around -20 degrees Celsius.

The talking heads were talking about Russia the next morning.

Insane, they all agreed sat in their London studios, that Moscow or Saint Petersburg could thrive in a region where the winters are so inhospitable if you’re out too long your eyelashes begin to frost and yet a sprinkling of icing-sugar snow brought the UK to a standstill.

And I, incredulous and curry-mouthed, wondered where the insanity was.

Because don’t Moscow and Saint Petersburg function so well precisely because they are fashioned in the depths of perma-winter wastelands and, therefore, must spend billions on extreme weather policies and snow defences to function throughout the season? And would it really be acceptable for the UK to spend those same billions to avoid a day or two of disruption every year?

Seems to me there’s not much money and plenty to be put right before we go all Stockholm over two inches of snow. Seems to me that those who moan and groan need less council salt and more personal grit.

And I wondered what the old bloke would have made of what the talking heads were saying.

But of course he wouldn’t have made anything. He’d have already been out there, Sunday morning, digging his way to wherever he needed to be.

He don’t need billions spent on snow defences. He just needs a shovel.