Mark Steel: Unseasonal apocalypse forecast

Share
Related Topics

The moment a single flake drifts on to the Lake District, every news report tells us: "The police advise you not to go anywhere unless your journey is necessary", which is pointless because who makes journeys they don't think are necessary? Are there people who say: "Yesterday I drove from Coventry to Leeds, and when I arrived I realised there was no reason why I'd gone, so I drove back again, via Plymouth."

By the time there's a thin covering of snow, the statements are apocalyptic. One weather report began: "Britain is literally frozen solid", and should have carried on: "This means the real danger will come when it thaws out, as Britain will literally melt into the sea, and police are advising when this happens not to go out unless you have developed gills."

It seems certain that historians of the future will discuss how the British civilisation died out because no one could cope with two inches of snow falling unexpectedly on A-roads and runways, and by the end of February the whole country was dead.

Every spokesman and airline executive tells us no one could do anything to stop the chaos, because it is colder than the Ice Age and more slippery than the rings of ice around Saturn, and Devon has become a stalactite.

The most entertaining part is watching these characters make their statements, such as: "In order to be prepared, plans for icy weather must be drawn up in July, and back then it was scorching so no one could have predicted that the temperature would change this much in six months."

Or they'll get technical and say: "The problem we've had is the combination of snow and cold. If we had just one of these, for example, if it snowed in the summer, it would quickly evaporate and be easily cleared away. But this snow has coincided with it being very cold, which is extremely unlucky and has caused it to turn into a substance known as ice."

Then they'll say: "As I've said on each of the five occasions in the past two years that the entire transport system has ground to a halt because of snow, there's no point in spending money on a situation that only occurs every 200 years. How many more times must I spell this out?"

But the most common complaint from people stuck for days on roads, trains and in airports has been that no one offers any information, and if Julian Assange was at Heathrow he'd come away saying: "Sorry, I couldn't find out a thing from anyone." So pensioners and toddlers and the sick wander indefinitely round the terminal, occasionally hearing an announcement that they may or may not get away, no one knows when but they can't go home as no one can say when they'll know they can't go either, which suggests the airport has been taken over by Buddhist philosophers. When an information office is set up, it will probably be a monk sitting on a mat saying: "Ah my friend, the most important journey we make is that of our own mind travelling towards that which is honest and true. Are you ready to cross the ice to find that destination, my child? Right, NEXT."

But some information has seeped out. For example, Heathrow employed 50 people to clear the snow compared to 150 at Gatwick, which is smaller. And Heathrow has fewer snowploughs than Gatwick, and cancelled far more flights. So I wonder if an expert meteorologist might find a connection between those random statistics. Also BAA, the company that runs the airports, made £1bn profit last year, and paid its chief executive Colin Matthews a salary of £1m. So, in the absence of anything else definite to announce to people waiting, they could at least repeat those figures over the tannoy to calm people down.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?