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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Winter misery leaves most of us feeling blue

THEY said it would be the most miserable day of the year and they got it right – unless you were a teacher, pupil or school-running parent spotting snow before first light.

EM Anne Pickles
Anne Pickles

Then it will have prompted a different mood, as you eagerly checked texts for confirmation of a gift from the heavens and crawled back into bed for a long, cosy lie-in.

For the rest of us, it remained pretty depressing. As predicted, January 21 lived up to all expectations of doom, gloom, slipping, sliding and coppering up for a make-do-and-mend packed lunch.

There’s an arithmetical equation somewhere that sums up Blue Monday – a formula which explains why that particular day puts us in the doldrums and has us throwing black looks and glowering stares at everyone within sniping distance.

It’s a long way from the pay-day that came early for Christmas – and too far from the next one that’s already been spent.

The weather is foul, there’s next to no daylight, there’s nothing to look forward to, resolutions have been broken (at least twice), the diet is shot and keeping the house warm is costing a king’s ransom.

And to cap it all, you’re not a teacher.

Yes, it happened again. Wintry weather (in winter) closed down hundreds of schools all over the country.

Even where only a dusting of snow had fallen, classes fell like nine-pins because – well, because that’s what they do.

There are lots of reasons, apparently. Teachers who live a distance from work can’t get in on time when the weather turns bad, it’s unsafe for kids to chance it – because they might slip in the playground and sue – and boilers break down when they’re needed in winter, as they have been doing for the past 50 years.

Oh, and not only schools throw in the towel. Airports grind to a halt, flights are cancelled, buses reschedule, trains give up the ghost. Even the London underground limped through long delays because of snow.

What a sorry little country of mediocrity we must seem to outsiders who take all extreme elements routinely and happily in their stride.

Give us temperatures below zero and we come to a shivering, panic-stricken stop. When the thermometer registers 20 degrees we order a hosepipe ban!

All this comes into a sharp, miserable focus on a snowy January 21.

To coin one of Elton John’s favourite lines – I guess that’s why they call it the blues.

Have your say

Ah, every year out comes the old NWEM attack on teachers for not teaching when their bosses close their school. Repeat after me: "Teacher do not close schools!" Now write it out a hundred times.

I remember fondly many many years ago on a day when I was put in charge of my school as the Head and Deputy were away. Before midday I received a message from the bus company to say that, if they did not come straightaway, they would be unable to come at all to collect the children as they could then not leave their depot as there was so much snow. Since 90% of our pupils came by bus, I had little choice and so became very popular when I announced the decision.

Should I have done what my boss did a year later and delayed the decision so long the buses could not through and the kids were at school until 10.30pm with a fleet of 4x4s and the Mountain Rescue used to take them home?

Or did I, as you suggest, merely "throw in the towel"?

Posted by Ron C on 23 January 2013 at 15:48

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