Warning: this article contains spoonfuls of anecdotal evidence.
I heard, via various channels, that the British are failing once again to cope with the snow, and are a laughing stock all over Europe where the rest of us are coping and life carries on like normal.
Living in Germany I turn on the TV news, and look out of the window and think, “Really?” I mean sure we have Winter tyres here, but things are being affected by the weather. Some of the local buses are cancelled due to the snow, and some people are choosing to work from home. Elsewhere there are tail backs on the autobahn, and flights are being cancelled because of the bad weather. Students from the next town are missing lectures because of the snow. And the gritting is nowhere near as good as it was in West Yorkshire, with side-streets remaining untreated here as they were there.
There’s little stopping the average Brit from taking similar precautions. Any decent tyre dealer will get hold of winter tyres and a spare set of hubs for you, should you choose to use them, and have the space to store your spare wheels. Certainly I know that once back in the UK I can get replacements for the “All Weather” tyres that our car now uses. And while manufacturers may not go in for German levels of over-engineering you can get decent outdoor gear in the UK too.
I wonder if the difference is attitude. In Germany, most people expect there to be inconvenience, they expect to need decent footwear to get to the bottom of the street, they expect to take longer to get places, they choose not to go out and don’t see it as the collapse of civilisation. And maybe few drivers in Germany expect grit to be some sort of magic dust that means they can drive in the snow without slowing down or taking any more care. In Britian, we try and plough on regardless and when we suffer the slightest inconvenience and we’re calling for the heads of the council gritting department managers.
Pictures from BBC news show that Germany and Britain are not unusual, people are having problems all over Europe. So maybe the only thing that is making the UK a laughing stock is the ability of the tabloid press to make a drama out of very little.