It's snowing! Head for the hills!

Apparently, it's winter, or at least it was once.  Now, we can't just have 'winter': we have to have 'The Beast from the East' (cold weather from Siberia) or 'Snowmageddon' (a bit of snow).  My favourite is 'Thundersnow', a brilliant name for snow with, er, thunder.

So, that's cold, wind, snow, gloom. Winter, then.

Now, there is no doubt that things have improved for most of us with better information and warnings available - not that anyopne heeds them.  People often have more understanding employers, there are better road clearances and preparations are usually made to deal with extreme weather.  The trains are all up the Swanney but that's normal: a spot of rain stops them on their tracks.

What is depressing is how each winter - for that is what it is - gets more and more apocalyptic in tone, with blood-curdling threats issued by weather people and police - DO NOT TRAVEL!  This is generally good advice and things would be significantly better if many people took their advice.  I always enjoy the person phoning in to a radio show bemoaning their lot as they've been stuck in their lorry (it's usually a lorry) for 4 hours.  The interviewer never asks them if they needed to travel. I wish they would.

Another feature of wintry weather is the endless comparisons to a nebulous time when the snow gods ruled supreme.  There is no question - unless you're an idiot or a former Chancellor of the Exchequer - that in recent years the weather has changed but that doesn't mean that  severe weather now is any less severe.  Stories of being cut off for weeks (something that has happened in my village in the past) are very interesting but less so when we're told how much worse it was then.  It probably was but I'm still freezing now and I have to dig my car out of the snow all the same.

I've lived in rural Oxfordshire for 16 years and in that time I have been cut off by snow about five times.  In some cases we spent over a week without being able to get in our out of the village.  None of this counts because we aren't in the North or Wales.  They do get severe weather there but guys, we do too, the difference being that we don't all whinge or feel the need to tell others about it. Mostly we go sledging and drink mulled cider.

Perhaps what is needed is a bit more acceptance of winter. It happens, guys - comes around every year without fail and, to be honest, when it does one day fail to come around, we're stuffed.  Winter will be cold, dark, depressing, wet but unavoidable and, as someone who said it in rhyme so was immediately cleverer than me put it, if winter's here, can spring be far behind?  Gotta love a snowdrop - little stalks of utter loveliness that tell you it's going to end soon.

Here's to winter, with a neglible train service but with many compensations in an age of almost universal central heating.

(And yes, I do support a homeless charity)

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