Подкаст: "We Love Snow"

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When English people meet each other, they generally start their conversation by talking about the weather. "It's nice weather we are having", they say. Or, "It's a bit cold for the time of year." This week we have had a big national conversation all about the weather. It has snowed.

If you live in Scandinavia, or Germany, or Russia or Canada, you are perhaps saying, "It is winter. It snows in winter. Why are the crazy English obsessed with the snow? What is the problem?"

The problem is that, in recent years we have had very little snow. Our winters have been wet and windy, but in most places they have not been cold and snowy. This week has been different. We have had the heaviest fall of snow for 18 years. The snow has come on east winds all the way from Russia. It has been particularly heavy in London and the south-east of England.

We do not know how to cope with snow in England. In other countries, normal life continues even in the snow. On Monday this week, however, London came to a complete standstill. There were no buses. There were hardly any trains. The airports were closed. People could not go to work. Children could not go to school. It was like an extra public holiday. The TV news had interviews with tourists who were visiting London. They were puzzled. They said that they had come to London to do some shopping, but all the shops were shut.

Later on Monday, the snow came here to Birmingham, and then moved further north over the rest of the country. We woke up on Tuesday to see the sun shining on a world which was sparkling white. Then came the really wonderful news – all the schools in Birmingham would be closed for the day.

But today, Wednesday, the national conversation about the snow has turned into a national argument about the snow. Why does normal life come to a standstill in England whenever we have even a little bit of snow? Surely we could do more to keep the roads open and the trains and buses running. What must the rest of the world think about this country, when they read or see on TV that everything in London has stopped because of some snow? And why were so many schools closed? Surely most children and most teachers could have got to school, even if they had to walk.

Some older people remember – or think they remember – winters in the 1950s and 1960s when there was lots of snow. They have become national experts on snow, and they have been on TV telling us how they used to go to school through snowdrifts 2 meters deep, and things like that.

While the adults have been arguing, the children have been enjoying themselves. Until this week, most British children had never seen real snow, lots of snow, snow to make snowmen and snowballs. Tuesday was a wonderful day – cold and sunny – and because so many schools were closed, the children could go out into the gardens and the parks to play in the snow, and sledge down the hills. This is much more useful than a day in school, in my opinion. The children will remember this winter for the rest of their lives.

And the weather forecast is – more snow. Good.

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