Wednesday 4 February 2009

Grit and bear it?!

London can cope with a lot. Political sleaze? No problem. A crisis crippling the financial world? Bring it on. But six inches of snow? Not a chance.

As if London grinding to a complete halt earlier this week wasn’t embarrassing enough, we hear that, of all things, we are now running out of grit.

Newspapers and other media outlets from the New York Times to the South African Witness were talking about the snow in London and how we were simply unable to cope. Even the LA Times had a dig, rich considering we all know how well the Californians cope with rain.

With buses left idle, trains stuck in stations and people advised not to drive, the entire transport system was crippled, more than 3,000 schools were closed, and many of those who did make it in to work were sent straight home again. A journey well spent.

The City was like a ghost town and it looked to us Abchaps like we were the only ones in the square mile with enough stealth and stamina to make it in to work. Albeit two hours late. But in true PR style we were rewarded with a glass of champagne for our worthy efforts.

But what has the snow storm done for the reputation of London? David Frost (I know, thoroughly appropriate), director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce described the situation as "not a very positive image for the UK.” A gross understatement, one might say, particularly when European TV channels were showing footage of stranded commuters and abandoned buses in snowfall that many would regard as light. With the storm having been predicted by late last week, it could be argued that we had at least a little time to prepare, and were not really, as Frost claimed, “caught on the hop”.

Hopefully by the time the snow has melted, the chaos of Monday and Tuesday will all be forgotten, but God help us if something like this hits us again and London is no better prepared. We should be if only to avoid the embarrassment of looking quite so pathetic in the face of a bit of 'adverse weather'. It is indeed a sad day when the Americans can point the finger and laugh at us. “It’s all so silly,” concludes Abchurch’s Jo, “and if we’re running out of grit, why don’t they just buy more?”



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