Reflections on a snow day


I didn’t make it into the office yesterday, because of the 8" of snow that fell on Sunday night made it just about impossible to get anywhere in London by public transport. Where I live, on the border between Putney and Wandsworth, there were no trains, tubes or buses running at all. A lot of people seem to have been moaning about that, wondering how one night of snow can bring the capital to a standstill.

Well, the reason we can’t cope with snow is that it so seldom happens. And I don’t have a problem with that. Apparently this was the heaviest snowfall for 18 years – why bother being prepared for something that only happens once or twice a decade? Imagine all the money that would be spent on snow-ploughs and action plans and training (and, no doubt, health and safety assessments). If you ask me, we’re better off just waiting for it to melt.

After all, it’s not like most of us can’t work from home. Whether it was editing documents, writing articles, emailing authors and so on, nothing on my ‘to do’ list yesterday really required an office. Just to underline the point, I even did a radio interview from the telephone in my bedroom. All of this has of course been possible for quite some time now, but remote working is yet to take off. There are obvious reasons why, but as London’s transport network gets filled further and further beyond its capacity, I can see remote-working becoming more and more popular.

Just after lunch, I went for a walk in the park. There were people everywhere, and they all seemed very cheerful – the snow clearly bringing out the best in them. It was also obvious how many Australians and South Africans there were living in the area. Following the oil refinery strikes in Lincolnshire, and the secondary action across the country, the free movement of people is very much in the news, and very frequently under attack. But what a strange and different place London would be without it.