6 January 2010 (Wednesday) - Snow

One of the better things I like about my job is that periodically I get to go to other hospitals to formally inspect their trainees to see if they are ready to become State Registered. For me, it’s a day out, and a bit of fun. For the trainees it’s positively nerve wracking. They spend months building themselves up to these inspections, and because of this I would not cancel one lightly. But the threat of snow had me worried.

So, having spent much of yesterday checking the weather forecasts, I had determined from various sources that snow wasn’t expected until mid day today. No one told the “weather pixies” about the forecasts, and so it snowed yesterday evening. I got up early today expecting to find thick snow, but it wasn’t too bad, and so I decided to set off for Pembury.

As I left home the roads were quite passable, and the snow was but a light dusting. As I drove west, so the roads became worse. When I finally decided that I’d made a mistake by going ahead with the inspection today, I was only five miles from my destination, so I carried on regardless.

There are those who laugh about the piddlingly small amounts of snow we have in the UK, but I would respectfully suggest that these people are overlooking one major fact. We are in a country which has made a conscious decision to give up whenever it snows. As I drove through the worst of it (two inches deep near Tunbridge Wells) there were some interesting articles on the radio about this very subject.

A chap representing small businesses was complaining that so many small businesses are forced to close in the snow. The reason being the need for the employees to provide child care for their children. Thousands of employees would happily get to work, and do a day’s work if not for the local schools having a blanket policy of closing at the slightest hint of snow. In order to provide a balanced view of the matter, the radio station had invited the UK’s boss headmaster (I forget the chap’s exact title) to give the view of the teaching profession. When asked why schools close so promptly whenever there is any white stuff, the headmaster answered (in a patronising tone) “because it’s snowing”. And continued to use this answer (pretty much verbatim and with increasing volume) for the duration of the interview. Apparently in the same way that night follows day, so school closures follow snow. It snows – schools close – like it or lump it (!) This wasn’t a matter for question, let alone discussion, or so we were reliably informed.

It was suggested that the reason that they close is that if schools stay open but a small amount of pupils *really* can’t get in because of the snow, then such non-attendance affects the school’s position in the league tables. But if the school closes, then the league table position is unaffected. The boss headmaster wouldn’t deny it, but got rather angry whilst not denying it.

It was sad that such a senior teacher chose to speak to the nation in the same way that he might chastise a recalcitrant fourth-former.

The radio then interviewed the “Minister for Talking Rubbish” who said that it was not economical to budget and prepare for something as infrequent as winter, coming as it does only once a year. Apparently since the media made such a fuss about MPs wasting public money on their second homes, duck houses and cleaning their moats, the government is “understandably” loathe to waste money on frivolous things such as preparing for snow.

I eventually got to my destination, did my inspection (she passed – they usually do), and then set off home again. Whilst I’d been inside, it had warmed up a tad outside, and the snow was becoming slushy. Getting home was far easier than getting there, and on the way home, all the cars that had skidded into ditches had been reclaimed either by their owners or by vehicle recovery services.

I then spent the afternoon writing up my report on the inspected trainee, and then spent some time on my work-related websites here and here. I have this theory that these web sites might be useful. So far, no one’s told me they aren’t.

Whilst working on them I had the phone constantly dialling the chokey. Having received a visiting order, the plan was to book a visit for a forthcoming Sunday. After two hours waiting for the phone to be answered, I was eventually told that my form was the wrong colour and that it would not be acceptable for a Sunday. I need it to be blue, not red. The fact that it was the prison (and not “Norman Stanley” who sent out the red form is neither here nor there….


  1. given the amount of cock ups on their behalf, I have come to the conclusion that HMP Slade is operated by a complete bunch of numptys.

  2. Numpty.....I love that word. Enjoy your snow. I am sure Alan will enjoy ours.