It’s been unusually cold and wintry in London the last few days (cold is relative - around here it means 0°C). In fact, we woke to a light dusting of snow yesterday morning, but it had all gone by the end of the day. This morning it snowed quite heavily for a couple of hours and there is now an inch and a half collected on the ground and in our garden.
As I watched the midday news on television, I noticed something that struck me as very odd when I first moved to the UK ten years ago. One of the reporters taped his report while the snow was falling at its heaviest, and he was pictured holding an umbrella above his head while speaking. He’s not the first person I’ve seen behaving so strangely. What makes the British think that an umbrella is appropriate protection from all types of precipitation?
To a Canadian, fending off the snow with an umbrella just looks ridiculous. After all, snow doesn’t make you wet unless it melts, and that doesn’t happen until you go inside a warm building. Besides, blowing snow easily circumvents any umbrella, making it useless. Think about it. When was the last time you saw pictures of any Inuit (aka Eskimos) carrying umbrellas? You didn’t, because they don’t. Umbrellas are pointless in the snow, and the fact that the British attempt to use them just shows you how unprepared they are for real winter when it occasionally hits them.
[Update – Various news organisations have reported that the snowfall in London today was the heaviest for nine years.]