Editorial: When the snow lay round about

Winter comes but once a year, and pretty much at the same time. There isn't that much variation, either, in the season "when icicles hang by the wall", as Shakespeare put it.

Not that you'd ever imagine that from our panicky reaction. Each year, the same relatively light dusting of snow elicits the same response: panic-buying in shops, shutdowns of railway lines and airports and that old staple, "traffic chaos" on iced-up roads.

Foreign visitors scratch their heads, wondering why the same nation that can put on an event as complex as the 2012 Olympics just cannot keep its planes and trains running, or its roads clear. A mystified Canadian told the BBC that he couldn't understand it, as what we considered winter weather would be considered more like spring weather in Canada. He is right, and we should be embarrassed. In our fear of flakes, we look distinctly flaky.

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