Monday, 2 February 2009
So. We were told last week, that 'Siberian' weather was on it's way and to expect it to hit this week. And it has.
We got a few random flakes Sunday (yesterday) morning, then the 'snow proper' started last night. I spent Sunday afternoon with friends and we were all excited to see the snow-covered world outside when i left at about 6pm. An inch-worth of virgin dusting, gently draped over the world. There were five of us, but it was the four adults who practically squealed with excitement when we opened the door; not the two year old. We all called out to him excitedly, running about; his dad frantically trying to find his little gumboots and hooded coat, while the rest of us rushed to find the poor boy.
He must have thought we were all mad.
I was still saying my goodbyes, but father & son were already on the pavement. Father - endearingly almost impatiently - rushing ahead, while my little friend pensively pottered, head down, almost startled at this wonderfully weird new world, gumboots kicking out, finding their feet on the new land... (He has seen snow before, but this was the first time it had snowed since he had learned to walk.)
The news cycle tells us that the snow grew heavier, the weather fiercer, overnight. A bus accident early this morning decreed that the weather would be too unforgiving for London's bus services. Most of the 'underground' lines also have a fair stretch of their services overground, which means they too are down 'til further notice (bar the Victoria line which is wholly underground, and a couple of more robust lines). Last time i checked, an hour or so ago, other rail services were suffering 'severe' delays, restrictions and disruptions due to the heavy snow. Commuters were still being advised to...well...not to.
The weather seems to have brought out the kindest, most beautiful in people. A kind man passing by, stopped and grinned at me as I waited for my bus to work this morning. "All the buses are down" he said. He told me he was going to try his luck at the train station. As I trudged carefully back homeward, I passed a very happy looking family, seemingly doing the same. The man offered "there are no trains either, apparently", as he peeked out from under delighted, piggy-backed daughter and we exchanged experiences and travel information.
I arrived home just before my housemate's return. She was laughing, exclaiming "i tried to walk it, but only got a mile. the snow was up to here!", as she pointed to her wet knees.
We put the kettle on and settled in front of BBC Breakfast News to watch reports of "the worst weather for 18 years". Even the phonelines seem to be suffering. My three bosses got my email before any of us had managed to actually speak to each other. My main boss had tried to call, but had gone straight to voicemail, as my network struggled to keep us all in touch. When we eventually spoke, she said she had managed to get in, but her husband was staying home with their children.
I popped out just now for supplies; milk, bread, papers, etc. Our usually quiet neighbourhood is positively bustling with excited children and snowed-in parents. Our local supermarket has closed all it's doors, except for one on manual setting. The guy manning the door, shouted to the small crowd out on the pavement outside, explaining that they were only allowing one small group of customers in the store at a time; due to staff shortages.
I strolled back to a smaller, quieter local store. No newspapers had reached this far south yet. But I was lucky enough to get the last loaf of bread.
As I walked back home (on our incredibly well and quick-gritted pavements - well done Southwark Council!), i passed one young couple. The girl spoke softly and wearily to her friend "as soon as I get home, i'm getting straight back into my pyjamas". Probably the very best advice I've heard in the last 5hrs+.
Huddling round the television for further weather news, we marvelled - as we always do at times like this - at how little it takes to bring London to a virtual halt. Or, perhaps, an everything but 'virtual' halt. Once they would have said "Watch The Skies". Now it seems to be "get online". (Although, a guest on BBC Breakfast News practically scowled at the sluggish online 'updates'. "Listen to your local radio stations, they always have the best and latest news", he advised, practically leaning and winking into the camera. I had to admire his thinking.
We're staying warm, drinking ridiculous amounts of tea and watching the skies...
Be warm, well, safe and happy; whoever and wherever you may be.