Britain was briefly thrown into chaos this afternoon, when it snowed for ten minutes. Factories closed down, supermarkets were emptied of bread and milk, and a small cult of sun-worshippers committed suicide. And then the sky turned blue, the sun shone, the snow melted, and everybody moved on with their lives (except, no doubt, the cult).
But what is it about snow that divides people so much? (I am specifically speaking about the British population here, as just recently overseas, there have been plenty of reasons to hate snow). As soon as the first flake falls, families gather around the window to watch, in a strange melancholy awe, a blanket of whiteness burying the world. Facebook, meanwhile, erupts into a series wild exclamations of “It’s snowing!”, followed by replies of “No shit”, no doubt accompanied by much eye-rolling.
Snow can, in all fairness, be awfully debilitating, especially in the case of the elderly, who understandably struggle to navigate through the slippery carpet of icy water. So do most young people, too! Snow is also a huge pain for drivers and commuters, brought to a standstill in particularly bad whirlwinds of the stuff.
But then some people quite like it. While an overweight business man is bursting every blood vessel in his head, trapped in the heart of a snowstorm on the M1, elsewhere, a giggling child will be building a snowman on his or her front garden, much to the delight of their proud parents.
Perhaps snow is just better accepted when it is expected. While still finding time to grump about snowfall in December or January, at least the moaners can add, with grudging honesty, “It was to be expected. It’s the right time of year.” But after delay after delay after delay, people start to forget about the snow. And that’s when it strikes, catching them all off guard.
In today’s instant, folk have been anticipating this since November. That was four months ago, and this afternoon, nobody was ready. But by the time the population had been reduced to a frenzied mess, the snow had already cleared up. Most of the United Kingdom has probably pushed today’s little flurry out of their minds, whilst secretly worrying about the next one, simply because they hate the stuff.
But me? I rather like the snow. I enjoy watching those beautifully crafted crystals float from the heavens, painting the landscape and turning even the dullest of scenes into works of natural art.
And I like the chaos snow causes, too.