Thursday 21 February 2019

Siberia hysteria highlights how immature and craic loving we are

A post-Breadxit appeal to aliens in an Irish garden last week
A post-Breadxit appeal to aliens in an Irish garden last week

David Looby

Whenever there is a crisis, there is an opportunity for profit.

This is a phrase that I just came up with, but it can easily be applied to Ireland over the past week.

The hysteria which gripped the country was remarkable.

Moments after the weather warning was issued people started stocking up as if a mini Famine was approaching.

Bread, eggs, milk were all disappeared from shelves within hours - three days before the weather was due to break. Intelligent people asked supermarket cashiers if their shop would be shut on Tuesday. Women and men threw envious dagger eyes across the aisles, eyeing up what was in each other's trolleys. Employees, hoping and praying for some paid time off work, started willing the worst snow storm in living memory to happen.

'Sure, it'll break up the boredom,' one person ventured to say.

Shopping trolleys were filled as if Christmas dinner had to be cooked, complete with beer and several bottles of wine in some instances. Sweet presses were replenished, days after empty Lenten vows had been uttered.

Of course the children were loving it, soft powdery snow to crush into snowballs, hot chocolate waiting inside, Playbarn dates arranged. The pure crystaline air clearly got to everybody's heads.

Then you had the heroes, men, who, in defiance of the cold, started wearing t-shirts again to show how hard they are, arm-skin like turkey legs, goosepimpled in the cold. There, undaunted, walking tall and proud around towns, but never staying in one spot for long.

It is said we find out most about ourselves when we are under pressure and in a crisis. Taking Ireland during Storm Emma and its ugly sister The Beast From The East as an example, it's safe to say we are a crowd of giddy jokers who never wait to find an excuse to party and retreat to the warmth of our homes.

In other countries, putting up with cold weather is as natural as breathing: the outdoors provides the backdrop for countless pursuits, but here the whole country shuts up shop.

Hardware shops across Wicklow and Wexford made a packet selling snow shovels, ice, candles, lighting etc, while supermarkets did even better, selling out of 'essentials' and the occasional treat.

Nobody was dashing for the quinoa and vegetables, it was all rubbish.

Then the first of the schools announced they were closing - followed swifly by 80 plus per cent of the remainder of schools, leaving only a few 'town' schools open to the frsutration of parents living out the country who were just about getting a handle of the dread and fear of further post-Ophelia outages.

The Government threw a bone to the elderly in the form of a double Fuel Allowance, which was only right but welcomed all the same. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar came under fire for disputing the need for elderly people to have the heating on '24/7' as advanced by Minister for Older People Jim Daly due to the anticipated sub-zero temperatures, and for saying that some employers need not pay staff if they can't make it into work. As someone who was working throughout the storms, I have some sympathy for the Taoiseach, but it's an ill Siberian wind that blows no good and with surfeit spending of festive-like brio last week, the State coffers are no doubt giving him pause to smile.

New Ross Standard