Snowed in: The English survival strategy

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I live in Finland, a country well adapted to deal with snowy conditions. Every year, for around 5-6 months in central Finland where I live, the ground is under the cover of a few metres of snow. As a result, a vast network of snow ploughs and modified gritters are deployed every morning and throughout the day, helping to make sure that the country keeps ticking over. Airports are virtually never closed, nor indeed are schools or supermarkets, even when the temperature is -30°C. For the most part, people never complain about the weather, nor is anyone surprised when it starts snowing.

Compare this to the situation in England, where I’m originally from. Almost every year, it snows at least once. In fact, according to the Met Office, the UK average is actually 33 days of snow per year. Whenever it snows, there ensues a long and inexplicable sequence of events. Firstly, the entire work force grinds to a halt. Vehicles are abandoned, work places locked up, children sent home from school. Secondly, everyone is surprised, despite the aforementioned statistic that it snows every year, and complaints are made at a national level about the fact that ‘we’re not equipped for snow’. Thirdly, and most illogically, everyone rushes to the supermarket to stock up on food. This is presumably out of fear that they will be snowed in, and may need to survive several days without leaving the house (which takes some imagination in a 2 or even 3 storey house). Remarkable then that without fail, the onset of snow triggers a stampede to buy bread and milk.

Witnessing this, one can’t help but conclude that the state has failed its people on some fundamental, educational level. You see, bread and milk are both prone to reach their use-by dates rather quickly. If we sent our troops into battle with bread and milk, they would be home within 2 weeks. Starving. It is for this reason that in survival programmes on TV, the likes of Bear Grylls and Ray Mears try to teach us how to exploit the nutritional properties of trees, insects and even one’s own urine. You never see them make a sandwich, nor do they wash anything down with a glass of milk.

And the biggest irony of all? It’s England. You’ve never been snowed in and you never will be. Make yourself a cup of tea (since you have plenty of milk) and enjoy your day off.

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