Funny old week. To continue the betting theme, it turns out that I’m just as bad at predicting the weather odds as I am picking a winner at Cheltenham Races. One amber weather forecast from The Met wanging* on about the The Beast from the East II and everyone goes into meltdown. Most things get cancelled, and people started behaving in a very bizarre fashion.
I know the week is behaving weirdly when a friend sends me screen shots from dog walkers posting on her local community message group. Photos appear of small piles of an unidentified white substance dotted by lampposts and letter boxes and attracting the attention of their interested hounds; soon the discussion inflames into fears that an urban dog poisoner is on the loose. This is too early in the week for the white stuff to be snow, and friend wants advice about whether she should come clean on the group and say that it is she, a senior doctor at the local hospital, who left these small piles of flour when setting a hash trail ** for her local harriers the night before. Hippocratic Oath upheld, I can report that she confesses and canine calm is restored.
Students at school then start getting excited when word spreads that, ‘snow is on its way’. There is a split between lower school students who suddenly become experts on the health and safety risk of opening a large school site if snow is falling/has fallen (statistically, they feel data demands closure – although they are a little vague on the health and safety stats on sledging and snowballing off site), and Sixth Formers who want to know if they can still come in and study if the school closes (so proud of you guys!). It is still early in the week and the only real battle here is to keep attention inside the class and prevent some distracting rubber-necking as students strain to watch the weather outside the class windows.
By Wednesday, students are starting to get grumpy as they realise that the odds looked stacked against their longed for ‘Snow Day’.
My sister, who lives further north, reports more barking behaviour when braving the cold to walk her dog on high frosty ground. She finds herself having to rush to the rescue of her gorgeous and extremely docile golden retriever (even goddess Clare Balding thinks so) who is pinned to the ground for the second time this month by an out of control Baskerville wannabe. My equally gorgeous and docile sister finds her voice (proud of you, Sis) and berates the dog’s owner for not putting her mutt on a lead. “Calm yourself”, comes the owner’s beatific reply, “I think you will find it so much easier if you regard my pedigree dog as having special learning needs”. “I think you will find it so much easier if you regard my dog as having post traumatic stress disorder after being repeatedly attacked by your dog,’ my sister mutters, dotting little piles of white powder on the path back to the car park and posting about suspicious sightings on her local dog walkers’ twittersphere.
Back at school, by Thursday students are feeling buoyed again. Weather app mania is creating a community focus that we’ve not seen since Fidget Spinner Mania 2017. It is untimely however, for we have a parent evening on the calendar for that evening. Teachers start to get restless (strangely the most restless seem to be those living in walking distance of school #just saying). If an amber warning shows a large snow flake hovering over the school postcode at 5 pm, and parent evening finishes at 7.30 pm what are the odds of keeping parents (who can easily walk to the site for their appointments) and staff (most of whom can’t) happy? I’d say 50:1 but we’ve established that betting is not my strength.
We act decisively and just after lunch we cancel the parent evening . I look ruefully at the pile of sandwiches in the staff room, for sadly it was too late to cancel teachers’ tea with the school kitchens. I look around for Sixth Formers to eat through the mountain of carbs, but they have left site already to start waxing skis, sledges and onesies in preparation for an anticipated ‘Snow Day’. I realise I’ve missed their irony when they enquired about the odds of keeping study areas open if the school closes.
Typically, the snow arrives at 10 pm (#grrrr), and I find myself unable to sleep because I’m thinking about how we can reschedule all those parent appointments for next week.
I wake to a dusting of snow. I’d decided in the middle of the night to play safe and not drive into town to do boot camp first thing, but then I see a photo on social media of my hardy crew of fitness nutters who did make the effort. I read a less cheerful post from my hashing friend (see above) who has battled the elements to turn up, but after clearing snow from her car arrives 5 minutes late. She can’t find the group – not surprising because it transpires they have jumped at the opportunity to don skis. Frustrated, she can see their cars however, so leaves a snow model of a male appendage on one of their windscreens to let them know how she feels about the wasted early start. Better than leaving a yellow message in the snow, I guess.
So, final snow call on Friday. Snow has fallen but the message comes out that school will be open as the roads are clear. They are. I drive in easily and I’m at my desk for 7 am when an updated message retracts the earlier decision. We are now closed for not enough staff can make it in and all the local primary schools have all decided to close. I decide to use the opportunity to get some work done in the quiet, but the site team tell me I need to go because they are locking up the site. I put up a fight, but they carry me to my car and eventually I back down. The snow has already melted.
My weather app shows that snow should arrive again at 5 pm. On the back of this, a friend’s birthday meal gets cancelled (truth is, she’s also a teacher and after spending all day in her pj’s because her school has also closed, the effort of coming out from under her duvet and brandishing some hair straighteners is just too much for her. She gets the weather app to write a sick note and promises she’ll buy ALL the drinks for us at her rescheduled event).
Weather app then keeps changing its mind and updates to rain, then cloud. Snow is now out of the question. Back at home now, I turn up the heating, and decide that toasted sandwiches for supper – many of them – will easily erase the thought of the restaurant meal I should be eating. I’m defeated by the sandwich pile, however, and decide to go for a walk and to take some of the bread with me to leave for the birds in these artic conditions.
I awake this morning to bright sunshine…and concerned messages from local gull experts on the local social media group about strange sightings of white bread by lampposts along the sea front. Turns out seagulls don’t like the white stuff either. I’m wondering whether to come clean.
*I feel I need to point out to FS and FD that I’m using an urban dictionary version of throwing/going on about, here -honestly – not any other colloquial meanings of wang (noun).
** Hash House Harriers are an internal group of non-competitive running social clubs – like hare and hounds. Flour is used to signpost the hash.