Panic. Panic! PANIC! Do you not see how important it is to panic? We haven't had a decent panic since swine flu - remember that? And that wasn't even around long enough to panic about. So now it's time to really panic. PANIC! It's not too late to panic. Get out there and panic. No, stay in and panic. Stockpile salt, water and Ovaltine at the Co-op. Then panic. And buy a newspaper while you're in there, elbowing people in the head for a can of de-icer and a bag of oranges to ward off the scurvy.
I've written before about how people like Iain Dale and Richard Littlejohn - ah, and I'm sure Wogan would be doing it, if he were still on the radio, but thankfully I don't have to listen to him ever again - do the "Hey look, it's snowing outside, therefore there's no such thing as climate change ever, hooray, I win" silliness every now and then. Which is fine, because it's a nice little joke for their readers and makes them feel more comfortable about not having to understand something quite complicated, like the seasons of the year and the fact it's colder in winter than it is in summer, especially in a generally cold country like Britain*. But you'd think that kind of silliness would be reserved for comment pieces rather than the front page of a national newspaper. You'd think so if you didn't read the Express:
Aaaargh! SNOW CHAOS! Eeeep! Martyn Brown was the Express writer charged with sellotaping together their snow story, writing:
AS one of the worst winters in 100 years grips the country, climate experts are still trying to claim the world is growing warmer.
With millions of Britons battling through snow and ice to get to work today, scientists claim that the cold conditions should not be used as evidence against man-made climate change.
As one of the worst winters grips the country, climate experts claim the world is growing warmer. Whyever might that be? Could it be that not every country in the world is seeing a really cold winter? Possible. But to imagine all that, and to imagine that today's weather in Britain is slightly different from the global climate, is quite difficult if you don't want to look beyond your own back gate. This story says there's a heatwave heading for South Australia. Conclusive evidence of man-made global warming, then? Well no, not quite either. It's a bit more complicated than that. Why can't newspapers handle things that it's hard to describe in ten words or fewer?
Even the Mail - even the Mail, for god's sake - is a bit more upbeat about things, saying that we'll get through it with true British grit and determination:
That's a bit more like it! I imagine the online articles about snow have ten billion billion billion comments underneath saying "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO GLOBAL WARMING LOL?" but at least the Mail are trying to suppress their natural instinct to panic as much as is humanly possible.
The newspapers, though, are bastions of responsibility compared to the dumbed-down rolling news channels, desperately trying to out-Day Today each other with increasingly apocalyptic predictions of snowmageddon. I think if I see one more breathless reporter in a bobble hat out in a snowy field telling me that it's snowing - which I can see with my own eyes, by looking with them - I'm going to go insane.
And now, of course, news channels and their websites have turned into Tony Hart doing 'The Gallery'. Send us in your pictures of snow so other people can have an idea of what snow might look like, in case they've strained their necks and can't look out of windows - and people do, they really do. "Here's my picture of snow, it's in my back garden" - "And here's a lovely picture from Doris Racist of Guildford, and here's some lovely snow in her back garden, oh and look, there's a little dog turd by the bird bath there, lovely, keep those pictures coming in" - is this what we've become? Is this the bright new world of citizen journalism? Is this what rolling news was meant to be all about - people sending in pictures of their back gardens because there was weather?
Apparently, yes. Sky plead with readers to send in their snow pics:
I'll send you a picture all right. Here's a picture of my hairy arse, which is about as relevant to news and as interesting as your bloody snow pictures. Ooh, here's a gate with some snow on it. Christ! Oh, people made snowmen did they? I would never have known they did, if you hadn't been there to tell me. Thank goodness there's no other news in the world at all, that you could just clear the news schedules and stop people dying and being nasty to each other right across the planet, because there was a bit of a flurry in the home counties and some kids had a day off and went sledging, the jammy bastards.
I might sound a bit curmudgeonly, but no. I like snow. I think it's great. I like going to the pub as well, but I don't think Sky should have a reporter outside telling the world about it. There are lots of banal details about the world that aren't interesting enough to be put on the news, with warnings of CHAOS and DANGER and BLOODY SNOWBOUND APOCALYPSE WITH PEOPLE MURDERING EACH OTHER AND TURNING TO CANNIBALISM - all right, I made the last one up. I know the election stuff was tedious, and the snow's a bit more fun than that, but surely - surely - there are other news stories as well, somewhere, about something. Aren't there? Or is this all there is? Panic and weather, the two great British obsessions - it's a perfect storm.
See also: Lenin's Tomb - today's headlines
* Even if you're looking at pictures of it on the TV from Florida or popping over on holiday to the UK to see how your kids are doing in their journalism jobs (which they obviously got through talent, determination and sheer skill alone) in the case of Littlejohn