The snow must go on

Since the adverse weather conditions are monopolising the airwaves at the moment, I thought they would warrant a few words. Speaking of which, I’m so sick of seeing snow on BBC news that I almost hope for something dramatic to happen that would nudge it off the reel. A baboon in a tutu mauling a toddler, perhaps. See, you’re laughing at the improbability, but the Metro would run it and you know it.

Anyway, I’m already digressing. To business. It always cracks me up that in these conditions the streets are described as ‘treacherous’, as if you’d slip on the ice, break your arm and then howl at the ground: “BASTARD PAVEMENT! I TRUSTED YOU TO SUPPORT ME ON MY WAY TO ASDA AND YOU BETRAYED ME! JUDAS!!!” It’s hardly fair to blame inanimate objects now, is it?

Anyway, I was betrayed yesterday by a particularly icy stretch on Park Road. I felt lucky to have taken the tumble behind a group of people and that they had apparently not seen me fall, but my luck ran out when I heard a piercing hoot of laughter from behind me. So, while prostrate on my back, I manage to turn my head enough to see this Rasta doubled-up and shrieking:

“Woooooooooohoooooo mon, you watch yoursel’ on dat ice! You gonna do yoursel’ an injury!”

Great. I can cope with the fact that he finds my pain amusing in some way, but this walking foghorn has just alerted everyone in a 50 yard radius to my predicament. Bastard. It’s my own fault anyway for running a non-essential errand.

This leads me neatly to the issue of whether a journey is essential or not. It’s a moot point, since the term ‘essential’ is entirely subjective in this context, but I did consider using the argument to get out of helping a motorist free his car from a wheelspin situation (“OK, tell me where you’re going and I’ll decide if it’s worth lending a hand. Primark? Forget it, mate, I’ve got better things to do, and so have you. Go and take your young daughter sledging instead.”)

On the other occasion that I decided to be a Good Samaritan, it backfired horribly. This time, the driver was out of his van – a 7.5 tonner, I might add – and trying to figure out a way to give his wheels some traction on the slippery surface. I caught his eye and said something idiotic like: “you stuck, mate?” then, realising that there was no way I was going to be able to shift a Ford Transit on my own, muttered something about putting his floormats under his tyres and scuttled off as quickly as the conditions would allow.

This is the problem. Because we only get this sort of weather once every 40 years, we’re neither prepared for it nor sure how to behave when we realise we’ve fucked up by not ordering enough grit. Another example: snowball fight etiquette. It’s an alien concept, but at times such as these, a necessary one. Is it OK to pelt a small child, or is it a form of bullying? Am I too close if I can see the whites of his eyes? Is it OK to pelt an unarmed man? A couple canoodling on a bench? Someone over the age of 60? We’ve no idea. And why do we assume there to be more malice in a shot to the face than in one to the knees? I can’t pitch to save my life, so it’s a mere fluke if I hit you in the face. Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it.

Over time, social evolution will catch up and we’ll figure out the answers to these questions. Perhaps I can start the (snow)ball rolling.

Question: Is it racist to pelt a mad Rasta?

Answer: Only if you don’t pelt any white people that day.


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