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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links