Friday, 22 January 2010

Snow Business: 2

Weather amnesia, fancy footwear and woolly jumpers: around here at least, the snow is already a memory, washed away by torrential rain. And Sunday’s unbroken sunshine brought the crowds to the seafront, desperate to walk off the cabin fever from days of being snowed in. What to wear isn’t such a problem in wintery sunlight. But depending on your cultural reference point, there is a Norwegian/Canadian/American saying, “there’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing.” Trudging through last week’s snow and slush in my wellies, a lot of people seemed to be out and about in the wrong clothes in general, and the wrong footwear in particular: suede effect trainers? leather brogues? In the snow? The same people who suddenly find themselves “immobilised” because of snow in the city seem to be the people who only ever walk as far as their car. Not much scope for encountering weather when outside life is just a blip.

Hence weather amnesia. It happens when life is a series of climate controlled cocoons: home, car, work/school, car, home. In his book Heat, George Monbiot quotes Department of Trade and Industry energy statistics showing that the average temperature for homes has increased from 15.5 degrees to 19 degrees between 1991 and 2002. All credit then to Hove comic Matt Whistler, who chose Hove beach on a snowy day to launch his campaign for National Woolly Jumper Day. As Matt says, turn down your heating and put on a woolly jumper. And he might have added, when you step outside the heat zone that is your car, or your home, forget the fancy footwear…. and remember, it’s the weather.

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