February 6, 2009

I’m in an odd situation being British living in Belgium. But by virtue of this fact I do get to look at the British news and press with a slight outsider status.
The British media have been embroiled in many a scandal of late , from the inability of people to answer phones in an honest way to the Russell Brand and Johnathan Ross “bullying” a man who made his career through casual racism.  Yet this week the actions of the media truly reached the fever pitch as print and press alike competed to see who could spasticate themselves into a coma over some frozen water.

For those who have chosen to live under a rock or for non Brits who may read this , Britain has experienced in the last few days what most reasonable people would describe as a snowy spell or at their most inflammatory “a bloody nuisance”. Freak snow fall , the most to have fallen on the British Isles in 18 years , forced much of the country to slow and some parts to stop completely for large sections of this week. London was perhaps the worst hit with public transport grinding to a halt on Monday costing our economy an estimated 3 billion pounds on its titanic like sink into the deep oceans of financial peril. So far so freak unpredictable weather event.

However if you were to say turn on the news at anytime this week you may have confused the snow fall for a particularly dastardly plot by Islamic extremists to slow your passage to work. Words like anger, shock , fear became common place. The word most often used to describe inconveniences to travel was chaos , a word I personally would refrain for using unless either a state of emergency has been declared or fire is raining from the sky.  The nightly news became a hideous collage of short films of children playing in the snow interspersed with a million interviews with the functionally illiterate.

“Its like a third world country” was the phrase uttered in one of these countless interview by some halfwit dressed head to toe in his Arctic garb ,harpoon slung across his shoulder.  To put the phrase in context he was discussing the lack of a bus service and he is correct. Third World countries probably also do not have bus services running today, or any day for that matter. In between all the serious poverty and political and social divisions in the third world I’m surprised they didn’t send a memo to number 10 expressing their deepest condolences for the lack of buses to ferry the ungrateful swine of  London between heated buildings and hot meals.

I’ve spoken to one-eyed people with a better sense of perspective than the British media and while the snow is concerning and will cause some unpleasantness it’s worth reminding yourself that it will pass and that at the end you’ll have a roof over your head and hot meal and the chance to receive a decent education and personal freedoms enshrined by law and on and on the list goes.


P.S Not all the news coverage of this event was terrible. BBC London set up a camera by a frozen zebra crossing and played images of Londoners falling on there arses for about 3 minutes. Quality.