Minor British Institutions: The white hell


The most unexpected regular event in Britain is on its way, if it hasn't already arrived.

The Inuit may have more than a few words for snow, but so do we: transport chaos, hundreds stranded in sub-zero misery, grounds to a halt, disrupted flights, mass cancellations, forced to spend another night, enjoying another day off school, clear or don't clear the pavement outside your house if you don't want to be sued, it doesn't happen in Norway.

Debate will 'rage' about the balance between the expense of preparation and the likelihood of incidence. Commentators will tell us again about the division revealed between those who are battling through to work and those lying a-bed on these crisp days ("grit running out").

What it really tells us is that the British happily and regularly create a bit of a flap because they're always being told they're good in one. Now tap that barometer and suck in that breath, ominously.