Why were so many schools closed last week? Snow! We had about three to four inches of snow the first day down here on the Thames Estuary. The second day, another three inches of snow fell, lying on top of the impacted snow from the previous day causing treacherous conditions on the pavements except where residents (i.e. moi!) had taken the trouble to shovel off the snow and scatter grit/ salt. “Do not make journey unless absolutely necessary,” warned the ominous voice on the radio. As I cleared my path for the second time I glanced over at the rest of the pavement. Treacherous – with newly fallen soft snow lying atop frozen impacted snow. On the third day we had another few inches. My neighbour stepped outside her back door, put her foot on a pile of soft stuff and slipped on the frozen snow beneath, breaking her leg. So I stayed indoors – only venturing out to accompany my neighbour-from-across-the-road to her home for a welcome cuppa and chat.
I remember walking to school in such conditions when I lived in Leicester as a child. And I didn’t have an adult with me. As I tramped along the snowy pavements I was joined by a couple more kids going the same way. Arriving at school we waited around in the snowy playground until the bell. Our favourite game was to slide up and down on the snow to impact it until it was like glass. Then we took turns to be pulled along our “slide” by two friends running along either side holding our hands. We squatted down on our haunches to be towed. Of course we fell over, ending up both wet and cold. No big deal. No fussy adults fretting over us. It was such a relief to get inside and remove our Wellington boots and retrieve the socks which had worked their way right down to our toes. If you have ever walked in wellies you we’ll know what I mean about the misery of socks disappearing. Today’s cosseted youngsters are tucked up warm inside, protected from the elements. It must really impact on working parents when schools close. My neighbour only learnt at 7:30am making it impossible to find childcare.
Is it absolutely necessary to shut the schools? Or is it a question of the Staff being unable to commute? Such snowstorms are rare, so this area has not invested in heavy-duty snow-clearing equipment. And every time there IS snow the region comes to a standstill. Apparently in Germany residents are responsible by law for clearing their fronts. Now that is such a good idea. As it is, the temperature suddenly rose on the fifth day and rain cleared every vestige of slush.