Monday, March 05, 2018

Let It Snow - But I'd Rather It Didn't

Britain has been much mocked this week by the Scandinavian countries and - yes! - Canada for the paralysis that occurred when the 'Beast from the East' swept in last week from Siberia.  'Huh!' they all sneered, 'we'd hardly put on our winter boots for a sprinkling like that!'

It's a bit of a sensitive topic, personally, since I found myself stranded in London by twenty-foot snowdrifts on the railway line between there and Edinburgh.  I was lucky in that all it meant was a bonus visit to the grandchildren in Kent and an anxious day of traveling hopefully without knowing whether I would arrive or not. (Eventually, after a ten-hour journey).

I know, I know, you have teams of snowploughs, snow blowers, gritters by the score when winter comes, all poised to rush in whenever a storm is forecast.  And yes, we have too few for a winter like this.  But thanks to our temperate climate, warmed by the Gulf Stream, those expensive teams would stand idle for years at a time.  Here in Edinburgh for the last five years we have never had a covering of snow that lasted for more than half a day. 

So if the mocking countries sudden received ten to twenty times the normal amount of snow, I think you'd have to admit that even they might struggle just a little bit!

But it did get me thinking about snow as a device within the plot of a crime novel.  The weather is always a feature in the books that I write with a rural setting and given that it's our business as writers to see to it that our characters are put in situations that are as difficult and dangerous as possible it might offer useful strands for the plot: the inability to escape from a snowbound cottage; the failure of the power systems; the evidence of sinister footprints...  Lots of possibilities there!

Maybe all that time standing on a station platform watching the departures board to see whether the  'Cancelled' would magically change to 'Edinburgh - Platform 4' wasn't wasted after all!

1 comment:

Sybil Johnson said...

I grew up in Seattle where it doesn't snow much, either. Or at least it didn't when I lived there. I've noticed that they "seem" to be getting more snow than I remember. Seattle seems to pretty much come to a standstill also when it snows. You can't snowplow really steep streets and it doesn't happen often enough for them to have a lot of equipment, anyway. So I feel for you.

It's all about what weather you're used to.