Friday, 10 February 2012

Snow, Idiots, Etc.

So the yearly “Oh my God, snow chaos, this has never happened before, OMG global warning!11!1” onslaught is with us today. From my window the world looks a very pretty place, but as you can see above, every single year it brings out the haven’t got a fricken clue brigade.

The Merc photo’d (by my co-pilot)  was driving along with an Alpine nursery slope on his rear screen, a Himalaya on his roof and an Arctic tundra on his bonnet. Snow avalanched down every time he braked, forming a little mountain range he had to peer over through his partially cleared windscreen, and above jogging pace he left a Red Arrows style vapour trail of powder snow behind him. He either hasn’t a clue or couldn’t care less. Judging by the fact he was eating a banana when I passed him, I’d imagine the latter applies.

He wasn’t the only offender, to be fair, just the only one I have photographic evidence of. Truth is, everybody was at it, and it seemed that the more rough-terrain capable the car, the less preparation for safe driving the owners deemed necessary. My rural town was host to several dozen of such motorised icebergs, pyramids of marshmallow snow with vast alloy wheels glinting from beneath their snowy drapes, usually with a freshly manicured, outspan-tanned “kept woman” smiling redundantly from behind her ice-frosted privacy glass. Idiots, the lot of them.

Speaking of idiots, yesterday I got angry with a small child. Slithering my way down the principal avenue in my part of the sprawling metropolis, I had reached about 18 mph when THWACK; came the thud of a well-aimed snowball. Suddenly the calm, easy-going Chris Haining was replaced by Mr Grumpybastard 2012. The road was empty of traffic so I pulled to a halt and reversed back to the origin of the ambush. It was a small adolescent boy and his younger sister, and two adults.

With Nicola’s strong discouragement, I lowered the window and bellowed “Excuse me; is that your son?”

Blank expressions from the adults.

“Can you stop your son from throwing snowballs at cars?” I asked, loudly and in an agitated manner. The kid complained that he “already said sorry”, which would be bollocks-all use to me as I drove past, concentrating on not crashing, and I pointed this out to him. After that exhange I quickly realised that I had run out of anger after having a quick shout, and there would be little I could do to make the situation any more pleasant, so I closed my window again and drove off, no doubt leaving the adults pissing themselves with laughter.

It was when I pulled into the service station for some petrol that I realised that the whole endeavour was a losing battle, for there, refilling, were a convoy of three cars, all loaded with snowballs with which to carry out drive-by attacks on whatever target presented itself. The cars were varied, a Citroen Saxo, a Sierra Cosworth Sapphire (or accurate replica thereof) and a BMW 3-Series Coupe, E46 shape. The latter would appear to denote that there was at least some access to money and resources, and yet all they can think to do on a Sunday was drive around throwing snowballs from cars.

Grumpy bastard I may be, but it just wears me down that the first thing that comes to mind to do when the snow falls is to throw it around at people. My town is stocked to the gills with old people; very old, in fact. Being faced by a sudden pelting with filthy, jagged frozen cannonballs could have quite severe onward consequences for their health and wellbeing; repercussions that might not be easily addressed with a nice warm cup of cocoa and a nice sit down. No, we’re talking actual danger. 

It’s five days since the snow fell. I’ve only just seized the opportunity to finish this outpouring, but the remainder of the snow still remains in shaded areas. It’s bloody cold out there but it refuses to snow any more than it already has, so, rather than fresh powder the original snow has been re-frozen several times. Where cars and people have walked or slid, the surface has been polished to a mirror surface literally everywhere the suns rays can’t permeate. I slipped over today myself, as I walked gingerly across the ice to assist a courier who had marooned himself in his wildly wheelspinning Mercedes Sprinter. It hurt and, worse still, my colleague laughed at me.

But, as I’ve commented previously, the icy conditions make for an enormous amount of fun in the right circumstances. Our car park at work, for example. The cul-de-sac my parents live in. These places become a playground, the traffic is predictable or entirely absent; you have plenty of space to play with and can slide and drift around until your hearts content.

For all the chaos it creates, for all the times this country has been brought to its knees by it, even for the time I got a bit to cocky in my old rover, slid it into a kerb and threw a track rod; I still love the snow. It’s pretty, it’s fun and it’s rare. It’s just a crying shame that people turn into absolute dicks the moment it shows its face.