Monday, February 2, 2009

First the credit crunch, now this....

Above: London's equivalent of a 'blizzard', as experienced in Wimbledon, and (left), how the media is quick to make the most of it

Pathetic, isn’t it? We survive the credit crunch (well, almost), but a little bit of snow and we’re finished. London and the south east had a huge fall last night. That’s huge by our standards. What, five inches? If you live in New York or Chicago or Toronto it would be an average day, a day not even worth talking about. Here in London, it’s virtually a national disaster. The trains stop running; the buses stop running; the schools are closed.
What does this mean for the book trade? Well, many publishers offices are depleted of staff today, and some bookshops have closed – their figures were bad without the snow: with the snow they will be even worse. More is forecast this week.

Yet there are winners too. The supermarkets are packed as a siege mentality takes over. Men who are normally in London are out with the kids and, after the snowball fights, are even doing the shopping. It could conceivably favour those bookshops which have managed to open: suddenly, some people have a tiny bit more of unexpected browsing time on their hands as they are given this strange day’s holiday. But it’s doubtful.

However, it is undeniably beautiful and brings to mind the poem London Snow by Robert Bridges (1844-1930):

‘When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town….
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled – marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear harkened to the stillness of the solemn air.’

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