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Terry Prone: White Christmas? give me a mild, dull one

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Avoid slips and falls this winter

Avoid slips and falls this winter

Avoid slips and falls this winter

I’m convinced the polar vortex was dreamed up by weather forecasters as a kind of Christmas present to the nation.

What do you give a population that has everything, in weather terms? You give them a polar vortex, that’s what.

It totally captured public attention. Conversations in the last few days has started or finished with the polar vortex. It’s even trumped the possibility of a White Christmas, the usual topic for discussion at this time.

You don’t meet a polar vortex that often. Drizzle, we’re used to. Driving rain, we expect. Even hailstones are not extraordinary.

But a polar vortex is the ace in the hole, the ultimate trump card that makes all other weather seem a bit vanilla.

Now, we talk about the weather all the time in Ireland, to a degree that puzzles visitors to this                country.

We Irish know that the weather is a constant assault on our equanimity, a trial to our patience and a misery sent to test us. It is certainly not something to be borne in silence. We have to talk about it. Ad nauseam.

Talking about it doesn’t change anything, of course, but it does establish, for each of us, our unique cause for complaint.

Mild damp activates one person’s rheumatism and slows them down so much it’s just desperate. Fog sets off another person’s asthma so their shoulders come up around their ears while they search for the blue rescue inhaler.

A cold snap in July makes us chirp at each other like sparrows on a phone line, and we can’t shut up about an Indian summer and how unfair it is that the weather is good when we’re all gone back to school or work.

But towards the end of November, we come into our own. It may be because, once in a decade, we invest in weather-related equipment and need to articulate the possibility that the yokes will actually be put to work, this year.

Those little plastic pads that you snap and stick in your mittens, for example, to warm up your hands in icy weather. Or the expanding miniature chains you put on the soles of your shoes to stop your feet going out from under you on ice.

The other factor is the sense that a white Christmas would be particularly romantic. To believe this, we have to gloss over the broken hips, the missed appointments and our complete incapacity, as a nation, to cope with snow.

We refuse to remember what it was like over Christmas 2010 and 2011 – bone-crushingly cold.

We forget last year’s Atlantic storms.

What we need to do is move away from hoping for Christmas card fantasy weather, learn to appreciate mild dull winters, and promise weather forecasters that if they return the polar vortex to sender, we’ll never say a bad word about them in 2015.


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