December, Scotland, 2010 is shaping up pretty much as January did. The Kelvin River, only a few hundred yards away from where we live, has iced over. There's even ice floating down the Clyde. Yesterday we had gridlock caused by a blizzard at rush hour. Ten and even 24 hours later there were still cars stuck in motorways - main roads that had been turned into slushy bottlenecks. Lorries were jack knifed. Cars were skidding. One friend of mine had been on the way to Loch Lomond when the snow began. He turned back, but spent a total of ten hours in his car trying to get home to Mearnskirk in the south side of Glasgow. He had a cup of coffee with him: he drank it and then had to 'avail himself' in the same cup. It will be a while before he lives that one down.
All this weather has made things very difficult. Britain is very used to just getting on with things: we have a damp, generally benign climate that allows us to do just that. I know people who don't even have a proper winter coat. There have been years in the recent past when I have gone January to December without ever changing my wardrobe that much. Jeans, T-shirt, shirt, add a jumper maybe, medium coat. Suddenly we are living in extremistan and thinking: do we like this?
At least my North Face Parka is proving to be good value.
As a country, we're certainly not prepared. Kids are missing a lot of school, people aren't getting to work and the shops are empty. We have a road based economy and its freezing up. Now it turns out that only a few councils even have a bespoke weather report from the Meteorological Office. And the SNP Scottish Government didn't know there was snow coming...