Bitter-sweet blizzard of weather reactions

By Keith Newbery

Published on Friday, January 25, 2013 - 11:15


THIS ISLAND LIFE FUNNY stuff, snow. You spend your childhood yearning for it, your time as a young parent revelling in it with the kids and your dotage watching the weather forecast with a sense of foreboding.

But there are two groups of people for whom the white stuff cannot arrive soon enough — teachers and weather forecasters.

While those in the private sector are expected to make their way to work as best they can, teaching staff rejoice in the fact school closures are often announced before the first few flakes have settled.

These peremptory decisions deprive children of the pleasures my generation enjoyed, such as romping in a snow-covered school playground with your mates, and they also leave parents in the lurch.

Goodness knows how many working days are lost by firms who can ill afford them, because a mum or dad has to stay at home while teachers settle down to enjoy a buckshee day with Jeremy Kyle and Phillip Schofield.

However, it’s the TV weather forecasters who greet the approach of Arctic weather with the most unbridled glee.

After weeks of deploying boring old symbols of half-suns peeping out from behind grey clouds (translation: we haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen) they can play with those sparkling motifs depicting the onset of snow.

Everyone, from Laura Tobin to the little ginger chap on Meridian Tonight, pretends to adopt a mournful expression — but they are actually seething with excitement.

They issue grave warnings of travel disruption, exercise their nanny instincts ('please, don’t go out unless you really have to’) and then cheerfully show photographs sent by in by people who not only went out but actually enjoyed themselves.

I have composed my own bitter-sweet ode to snow, inspired by the effect it usually has on the Island.

The following should be sung to the tune of Both Sides Now, with apologies to Joni Mitchell.

Shapes of flakes from God’s own hand,
Bring shrouds of wonder o’er the land,
With silent beauty in command,
I’ve looked at snow that way.

But now it only blocks the sun,
It’s cold and damp for everyone,
So many things I should have done,
But snow got in my way.

I’ve looked at snow from both sides now,
From home and car, and still somehow
It’s snow’s sheer nuisance I recall,
I really don’t like snow at all.

Schools are shut without delay,
And teachers have a duvet day
But they don’t care, they still get paid
For having more time off… 
While grit and salt gets piled high,
There are still roads you can’t get by,
It’s enough to make a glass eye cry
But snow will have its way.

I’ve looked at snow from both sides now,
With power cuts in poor old Chale,
Where they just watch the mercury fall,
They really don’t like snow at all. 

Nelson Road becomes no-go
As locals caper in the snow
And coppers get a chilly blow
For their part in the fray.

Fun and sleighs and snowball fights,
It’s one of nature’s gorgeous sights,
Tumbling down throughout the night,
I’ve looked at snow that way
But now it makes my chilblains throb
With fuel companies on the rob 
They charge more for doing sod all
I really don’t like snow at all.

Pavements now become death traps,
With snotty noses under wraps,
And water stuck in frozen taps,
It’s winter’s little joke.

It’s not just snow which comes in balls,
Coz health and safety is the cause
Of joyless days spent in cold halls
For kids who just want fun.

I’ve looked at snow from both sides now,
But slush is what I see somehow,
Coz old age comes before a fall,
I really don’t like snow at all.

Forty years of showbiz stories

John Hannam and Sheridan Smith

John Hannam and Sheridan Smith.

This photograph merely confirms what I’ve long suspected — John Hannam is getting more hands-on with the stars.

He’s been interviewing luminaries of stage and screen in newspapers and on the radio for almost 40 years now but I don’t recall him snuggling up to Craig Douglas or Jimmy Cricket in quite such an affectionate way.

But the old boy has always had a bit of a thing for actress Sheridan Smith and their encounter (it was scheduled for ten minutes and lasted two hours) will feature in a talk he’s giving at Newclose Cricket Ground on January 30.

He will also be reminiscing and playing recordings of his interviews with Island characters such as Sylvia Jones and Fred Price.

It costs just a fiver to get in and there’s food available if you want it.

• Tickets can be booked by ringing Ken and Jackie Hamblin on 01983 524267 or e-mailing them on

All proceeds go towards the upkeep of Newclose.

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