It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I don’t like Dickens (Victorian mawkishness and hand-wringing doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid) so excuse the title of the post.  I just want to have a wee ponder on how the weather has brought out the best and worst most irritating aspects of people.

I won’t have an easy pop at South-easterners, who come to a standstill with a cm or 2 of snow.  Instead, I’m on about the blizzards through Central Scotland yesterday.  For those who don’t know, many hundreds (more?  BBC reported that Strathclyde police said 1000 cars were abandoned or stuck in snow) were stranded overnight in their cars when the main roads between Glasgow and Edinburgh came to a total standstill because of the heavy snow and thick ice.  Some people set off to do a 6 mile journey at 8.45am and got home after 9pm.  Others who abandoned their work after lunchtime made it home the next day.

I read the iPhone updates on Facebook that some friends who were stuck at different spots in the Central Belt were making.  Reading the angry, upset, frightened posts and the concerned replies, 2 things became quickly clear:

  1. There was a seemingly spontaneous exodus of local people who went to help those trapped in the snow.  There were tales of packets of crisps, water bottles and biscuits being thrown from bridges to the assembled sealsmotorway drivers; people walking the line of stricken cars in the middle of the night with a flask of tea and paper cups, making sure drivers had blankets and weren’t dying of hypothermia.  Like a proper Dickensian Christmas tale, these Good Samaritans generally refused to give their names.  Heartwarming stuff, indeed.
  2. There’s a bit of an outcry going on that Someone Must Do Something.  Or at the very least, Someone must be sacked, to “shoulder the blame”.  What for?  The snow?  No – for ‘letting’ the roads close.  For not providing us with food and hot drinks.  For not being seen.

<takes deep breath>  You know fine which one has got my goat.  Aye: number 2.

Let’s do the easy ones first: the reason why you didn’t see fire engines, police and ambulances is because they can’t levitate over stationary, stuck traffic!  Helicopters weren’t sent out to deliver you a hot Domino’s Pizza because there was nowhere for them to land!  Who did you expect to schlep out along the M80 delivering curry takeaways, coffee and beer?  And even if someone official had a magic Tardis-like sledge (Santa moonlighting as a traffic warden?), who’d pay for all the goodies – your council tax?  I think it was a thoughtful, generous, beautiful thing that some local folk did in taking care of those stuck, but I don’t think it was anyone’s duty or responsibility.

Maybe I’m a crazy person because in winter I drive with a spade, blankets, sleeping bag, waterproofs, big boots, water and snacks in the car (etc.  It’s a big car to fit 3 car seats).  Or maybe I realise that being an adult, I have a responsibility to myself and to my kids to take care of us: I don’t expect someone else to.  I think it’s the disgruntlement of the (few) people who just expected to be showered with help that’s bugging me today.  Is this anger a one-off?  Or do they sit bleating, with a begging hand out, every time something goes wrong in their life?  Why does there always have to be someone (else) to blame?  Good crikey, what will they do when the oil runs out?  Will they still expect their ration of fuel?  Will they be moaning about the prices and scarcity of mangoes in the supermarkets?  Will they be demanding that Someone Must Do Something about there being no heating..?  (Still, with no leccy, I won’t be reading their rants online).

My minxes have faults, mostly of my making, but I’m determined that they’ll grow up reasonably self-sufficient and resourceful.  I may not teach them my ninja-like survival or foraging skills (…tongue-in-cheek, guys, tongue-in-cheek…) but they will grow up with enough sense to check the weather forecast before they go out, or even look up at the sky to where the wind is coming from!!  They might not always have a back-up safety plan for all eventualities (I’ve expended a lot of pointless energy anxiously doing that – daft old trout), but ‘just in case’ will mean having boots, proper jacket and sleeping bag in the boot, not toting an alternative colour of lipstick.

My Dynamic Duo embody both extremes of personality, at the moment.  Clever, talented P perpetually whines when things don’t immediately go her way, wailing, “I can’t do x; I’m rubbish at y; who wants to do z anyway?  You do it for me.”  (I don’t, which is our main source of tension just now).  L, on the other hand, is tenacious to the point of bloody-mindedness.  Her second complex sentence was a defiant “L do it!”.  When choking, she’ll calmly fish around in her throat to find and remove the offending article (then brush it off and eat it again, usually)

Scanning Hamilton for a stranded motorist who fancies a Twix

2 thoughts on “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

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