Two burst pipes, one flat tyre and a partridge in a pear tree…

The Big Freeze UK

The Big Freeze UK (Photo credit: niOS)

Two burst pipes, one flat tyre and a partridge in a pear tree.  Yes, it has been a truly fabulous week and to top it all, we’ve woken up to snow….again.

This has been a landmark year in my relationship with snow.  In the past, I have always greeted the white stuff with great affection and childish excitement.  In fact, nothing at the grand old age of 40 has the ability to roll back the years to childhood more than pulling back the curtains and seeing snow.

However, relations have got a bit frosty this year.  This morning I pulled back the curtains and my heart sank.  It is two days after the first official day of Spring and yet again my world is shrouded in white.  It is not right and I’ve got this feeling that the snow and I are going to fall out this time.

The children didn’t even bother to look up from the TV when I announced the snow’s arrival this morning.  Seen it all before. I guess the only positive from their snow-weary response is that no-one has yet suggested that we must go sledging.

Now don’t get me wrong – I understand how magical sledging is for children but the magic has sort of worn off by the age of 40 for women.  I say “women” advisedly because in my experience men turn into 5 year old versions of themselves when they get within a metre of a sledge.

A woman’s experience of sledging is very different to that of a man.  First you have to find all the winter clothes, dress three children in winter clothes, take all the winter clothes off again when they need to go to the loo.  Finally you get out of the house, usually to be hit full in the face by a snowball thrown by one of the children who inevitably finds this hysterically amusing, whilst you are at this point just mildly hysterical. You then have to haul the kids on the sledges to the slope of choice and stand for approximately 2 hours in the freezing cold whilst they go up and down, only moving to tend to the inevitable first aid crises and to extricate at least one child from a close encounter with some brambles. Of course there is the added dubious “entertainment” of watching grown men flinging themselves down a slope on a small piece of plastic designed for someone a fraction of their weight. Then it is off home again, at least one child now whinging about how cold they are and refusing to go any further.  This whole experience then has to be repeated at 3 hourly intervals until the snow has either disappeared or one child has injured themselves to a point where sledging is now inadvisable.

I know I am sounding very ungrateful for the joy that snow brings to children but frankly I’m sick of it this year.  It has made me realise that I’m not sure that I could live in a country where snow is a permanent winter fixture.  Obviously the UK’s inability to cope with more than a centimetre of snow doesn’t help – for goodness sake, they even shut Sellafield yesterday not because of some “incident” but just so the staff could get home safely!

I think perhaps my antipathy towards the white stuff is less about the snow itself and more about a yearning for this interminable winter to end. Maybe it is an age thing, but this winter has gone on for far too long.  In part, the problem has been the lack of blue skies.  I don’t mind the cold as long as the sun is out but this winter in the UK it would appear that the sun has taken a sabbatical.

As is the norm in the UK, we have been bombarded with weather statistics by the media.  This weekend is apparently the coldest March weekend in 50 years. The media are revelling in compounding our misery by showing footage of people sitting in daffodil filled Hyde Park this weekend last year where temperatures soared above 20 degrees.  No country talks about the weather more than we do but ironically no country is less prepared for any extreme  weather (and really it is not that extreme is it?) than we are.

I’m off now to hide the sledge and put all the snow clothes up in the loft….just in case, my children get some misguided idea that going sledging would be fun.  Then, I’m going to pull myself together and stop whinging – I’m starting to sound like one of my children on the way back from the toboggan run – and try to enjoy what is hopefully the last blanket of white for several months.

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Political Rant

English: Helix pomatia, Helicidae, Burgundy Sn...

English: Helix pomatia, Helicidae, Burgundy Snail, Roman Snail, Edible Snail; Karlsruhe, Germany. Deutsch: Helix pomatia, Helicidae, Weinbergschnecke; Karlsruhe, Deutschland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What do politicians actually do apart from talk a lot?” – so said one of my children the other day. It got me thinking (and unusually for me, thinking seriously).  When I was at university and in my twenties, I considered myself politically engaged and fairly well-informed.  Now? Well, at the moment, I feel about as politically engaged as the snail I am currently watching on my window ledge. Not to do snails down – for all I know this snail is actively involved in discussing the finer points of democracy with his fellow snails – but I doubt it.  So what has happened and am I the only one who feels like this?

I reckon I’m not. If I am totally honest I would struggle to name the members of the Cabinet at the moment and I’m not proud of that. I find myself switching off when political issues are on the news; I skim read newspaper articles.  I have totally lost any passion I had for politics. I do, of course, care deeply about the issues which affect the world I live in but I’m just not interested in the political angle.

What concerns me most about this is that if I feel like this at 40, then what about the generation below me? It seems to me that with the exception of a few, most are not just disinterested in politics but it goes further than that, they are deeply cynical about the motives of our politicians and their ability to effect real positive change in society. This generation can not even be bothered to vote – that is how little they care.  They feel far removed from the workings of Westminster; they do not trust our politicians; they do not believe in them or their motivations; they no longer respect them; they are totally “turned off” politics and the politicians who are elected to represent them.

I find this extremely worrying. It is crucial, I think, for politicians of today to find a way of re-engaging with young people.  Politicians need to find a way of galvanising the younger generation, of making them feel political passion again.  I have no idea how this can be done especially as scandal after scandal, misdemeanour after misdemeanour rocks our political system.  It is one thing to re-engage with someone like me who is suffering largely from political inertia (mixed in with a dose of cynicism) but quite another to re-engage with a generation who do not trust or believe in those who have been elected ostensibly to represent them.

I really feel that this is an issue that needs to be addressed with some urgency before another generation – that of my children – grows up disillusioned and cynical about our political system and those who inhabit it.   My child was right – stop the rhetoric and start doing something to inspire the next generation, to spark their interest in the political arena, to make them want to vote, to care who represents them and most of all to make them respect and trust again.

Political rant over. I realise that you may be thinking this is rather “serious” for my blog.  Fear not, I am sure I shall be able to lower the tone in my next piece.  However, sometimes things just need to be said and today I felt like saying them. Do you agree with me?  What do you think about this issue?