19 December 2010

Chaos

I have ranted about Londoncentricity before. Perhaps it's the same in all countries - capitals reaping attention while the provinces are rather sidelined by their national media. From Bujumbura in Burundi to Papeete in Tahiti, no doubt the news focus remains biased towards their capital city which is normally also the nation's metropolis.

Though South Yorkshire suffered a massive deluge of snow at the beginning of this month, we avoided the snow chaos that has swept across England's southern underbelly in the last couple of days. The roads have been clear here and though the temperature has been regularly well below freezing, commerce has not been adversely affected.

Yet if you listened to TV newscasters and TV weather forecasters, you would think that their south eastern snow chaos was nationwide. People are trapped in motorway traffic jams. Shopping centres have shut their doors. Schools have closed . But hey, not here in South Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire or Leicestershire or Lincolnshire or Warwickshire or Derbyshire. They warn us not to venture out in our cars unless absolutely necessary because of drifting snow and icy, impassable roads. Where?

Well, in spite of the dire warnings of disaster, I ventured out this morning. I drove at 80mph on charcoal-coloured tarmac down the M1 to Junction 27 where I turned off to park up close to Moorgreen Reservoir in Nottinghamshire. Then I went for a walk in an area that the writer D.H.Lawrence once referred to as "The Country of My Heart". Sure enough, the surface of the reservoir was frozen solid but the paths I walked were virtually snowfree - just a light dusting, as if from a sugar shaker.

After my invigorating five mile walk, I carried on along the M42 to Birmingham. It was only when I was entering the suburb of Selly Oak to the south of the city that I encountered some winter chaos. There had been a fairly heavy snowfall. Traffic was crawling along and in five hundred yards, I lost twenty minutes before turning into Dawlish Road and parking up at the terraced house rented by our Frances and her friend Charlotte during their last year at university. I was bringing them home for Christmas.

Once out of Selly Oak, I again zoomed along - A38 through the very heart of Birmingham, M6 past Fort Dunlop until we reached the M42 North which later links back to the M1. Traffic was lighter than usual and so the journey time was shorter on a day that our nation's news people and meteorologists seemed to have cancelled out before they struggled back to their snowbound flats in Fulham, their mansions in Maidenhead and their studios in Sidcup.

And yet...perhaps my best memory of today was viewing Haggs Farm from a distance. This was the childhood home of Jessie Chambers, Lawrence's first sweetheart and the basis for Miriam's farm in the novel "Sons and Lovers"...
Haggs Farm near Underwood in 1958

7 comments:

  1. According to our news sources here in Northern California, my house should be afloat and heading out to sea. Our stations hire reporters who have dren for brains. I'm sorry to hear it's not just a local phenomenon,

    I'm curious about snow patterns in England. Do you get more snow at higher elevations? More snow inland than on the coasts? In California it's all related to elevation. It rarely snows below 3000 feet, and most falls above 5000 feet. But I'm embarassed to admit I don't know enough about your geography to understand why you have areas with lots of snow and others with very little. Maybe I'd know these things if reporters were actually skilled. Maybe I'd even own a TV if that were so.

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  2. I don't necessarily blame the people who live in the south east other than those involved with the media. When something bad happens to other people, it's a difficult situation -- when it happens to you, it's an emergency!

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  3. JAN Some winters we have no snow whatsoever. Elevation is a factor but not as significant as in California. The varied distribution of snow is dependent on numerous factors - including the direction of the prevailing wind. Britain is on the very edge of the European continent and our unpredictable maritime weather comes either via the Atlantic Gulf Stream drift or sometimes in winter from the Arctic or Russian Urals. It's an annual battle. Generally speaking the hilly areas of Scotland and Wales receive more snow than elsewhere and the southeastern part of England - including London get the least.

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  4. Fond memories of English 'A' level there, YP. It's pretty clear round here too and I hope that will be the case tomorrow as I wend my way south to Bristol.

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  5. On Feb. 1, 1969, I flew over Scotland on my way from New York to Copenhagen, and all I saw was a blanket of white. The entire country. Maybe next time I'll use a plane.

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  6. Well, you know it is the same here. And not just for snow. Sometimes as far as the media (and the government, for that matter) is concerned, the whole of the United States consists of the long east coast, the states that border eastern Canada and, last but not least, California!

    I always wonder how our people and our government would have responded if 1) Hurricane Katrina had hit the south coast of California, 2) if the Upper Big Mine disaster had happened in Florida instead of West Virginia, 3)the bridge collapse of 2007 in Minnesota....what if that had been Boston? Etc., etc.

    I wish that the people of my country would remember where its riches really lie. In the middle. With the farmers, the ranchers, the miners, the loggers, the inventors, the everyday hardworking majority!

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  7. I'm with Jennyta - - fond memories of Sons and Lovers for Eng Lit A-Level! Perhaps one day I'll read it again! It IS cold though. COLD. Brrrrrrrrrr.

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