Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: If you think snow is terrible, then you’re probably an adult

Some tribal people have elaborate rituals to mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. In our society there are religious ceremonies that do the same thing — like Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation.

Even if you don’t believe in God, you’ve probably done something that for you, has made the statement, “I now consider myself a grown-up.” Maybe one of the big firsts – your first drink, smoke or sex. Or maybe the first time you stayed up all night or slept in all day.

But one thing speaks louder than most about whether you’re a kid or an adult and that’s snow.

It’s winter. You wake up, pull back the curtains, look out and the world has turned white overnight. If your response is, “Class!!” then you’re a kid.

If your response is, “Oh s**t! (or “Oh crap” as they say on American tv shows not made by HBO)” then you’re an adult. So why is it that tv advertisers (adults) insist on trying to sell their products to us (adults) by using snow?

As I write this, the TV’s on in the corner with the sound muted. (I know it’s a bit moronic having the tv on if you’re not watching it, but the lamp in that part of the room needs a bulb so the tv acts as a kind of warmglow substitute, honest).

Because it’s a commercial channel (Okay, okay, I’ve got “I’m A Celebrity” on just in case Gillian McKeith does anything really unexpected, like coming out with an interesting line) I keep seeing seasonal ads. Families going to Dobbies Garden Centre, families drinking Coca Cola, families (well mothers anyway) going to Iceland.

And because it’s Christmas (in tv land) there has to be snow. So there’s bucket loads of the stuff! All white and smooth and easy to work with.

Suddenly the tv goes to the news and the lead story is snow! And there’s bucketloads of the stuff! All white and smooth and causing total havoc all over the country.

So what’s with this, our almost Orwellian approach to the white stuff? “TV snow good! Real snow bad!”

Are we doomed to be stuck forever in this depressing contradiction, loving the idea of snow because it reminds us of our carefree youth but hating the reality because it’s a total pain in the neck? Could we ever expect to have the reality match the ideal?

Could we dare to dream of a time when a snowfall doesn’t herald the collapse of normal life as we know it?

Other countries manage alright. You don’t hear of listeners in downtown Switzerland phoning into their equivilant of the Nolan show and saying, “Och Stefan, ich bin scundered, so I am, for I’m stuck here in the chalet an’ I can’t even get til the local shap for t’buy m’morning bratwurst! Ist ein disgrace, so it is.”

Why does winter weather still seem to take our Roads departments by surprise, every winter? No sooner has the dust settled on Children In Need than we’re treated to the now traditional, annual news report about low salt supplies, snowploughs stuck in the snow and plucky people digging their way out to make that lifesaving trip to Dobbies Garden Centre for a roll of twine and a cappucino.

Please, spare us any more of this. Find a way to let us enjoy the magic without the mayhem, allwhite?

Belfast Telegraph

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