Thursday, December 02, 2010


The snow that has engulfed the whole east of the country reached as far west as us overnight. My daughter was with us yesterday afternoon borrowing a suitcase to take to ASH where she has a poster to present. All UK flights to Orlando leave from Gatwick and Gatwick was snowed in. Around 500 UK haematologists go to ASH, so she was in the same boat as a lot of people. She was due to fly today but the airport was still closed. Luckily, my son bought a chocolate Labrador from someone who has inside information at BA and she was able to inform my daughter that her flight would be cancelled and to recommend an alternative route via Dallas going and via New York returning, leaving from Heathrow, which was still open.

There was still the problem of getting to Heathrow from the south coast. She looked out of the window at midnight ans saw the that it was snowing very heavily; so she decided to start then and there. The journey normally takes an hour and a half, but driving conditions were so bad that it took three and a half hours. HGV drivers were behaving like madmen with no concern for other road users. One truck jackknifed, blocking most of the motorway.

She rang a few minutes ago to let us know that she was in the process of boarding her flight, so she looks like she is going to make it. I wonder how many would have given up.

We seldom have snow in Bournemouth and I thought we were going to get away with it. My other son has not been to work since returning from Italy on Monday. He is snowed in at Tunbridge Wells.

The view from my office window is stunning and it's still snowing. I reckon I have the best office view in the world. I am separated from the 18th green of the golf course by a stand of trees. In the summer there is a magnificent sycamore, several silver birches and a smattering of different conifers, yet you can still catch glimpses of the brilliant green of the golf course and the yellow sand of the bunkers. Grey squirrels are always present (even today in the snow). The highest trees are about forty feet and the tree-rats have fun as they leap the highest branches. Seldom absent are a pair of ring doves and lately we have had an ominous black crow. Pairs of magpies and jays swing back and forth across the road between our lawn and the tall trees, but our hawthorn is home to families of blue tits. I spot sparrows diving for cover beneath our yew hedge and there is always a robin around somewhere. Our blackbirds live in the back garden and rarely venture to the front.

Today in the snow, the trees are even more attractive. Normally, I would be out clearing the drive, but my wife forbade me and set out to do it herself. It was really hard work and I was chomping at the bit to go and help, but this last course of chemotherapy has been tough to bear and I am still getting side effects on day 13 - so much so that we are delaying the 6th course by a week.

I watched her manfully shovelling from my office window, and watched lots of young men, spared school, walking by throwing snowballs. I cast my mind back to my own teenage years. I would certainly have stopped had I seen a lady in late middle age shovelling snow and offered to do it for her. No doubt she would have given me sixpence and a warm drink for my troubles. What has happened to our youth?

On local TV last evening a man was being interviewed because he had cleared a hundred yards of sidewalk as a neighborly act. Astonishingly, this had made the news headlines! We are not used to bad weather in England but instead of getting off their backsides and clearing the snow, they are complaining that the local authority has not anticipated the snow and done something about it. How did we become such a dependent culture?

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