Should those politicians have had a bit more fun in the snow?

The snow is melting here in South Eastern England. Yesterday’s snow is going but the fun lingers on, at least in memory, for those who embraced the opportunity.
Of course, some people had no choice but to get on with their work. Ambulances had to run, hospitals open and murderers had to be caught. I don’t know if any were though or whether anyone felt inspired/deluded enough to commit a murder in the UK yesterday.
Some people decided that work was the thing and they just had to get there no matter what – drivers risked the roads, spun out of control and ended up stranded in ditches.
Did they really need to do that? What was the work that was so important? I was tempted to think that they might have had an over-inflated view of their own importance to the continuing life on this planet and a definite lack of the spirit of fun.
The roads would have been better kept clear of self-important businessmen so that ambulances and other emergency surfaces could get through more easily.
Everyone else should have grasped Nature’s present and enjoyed the beauty and the opportunity to frolic.
Not so Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister or his visitor for the day, Wen Jiabao, his Chinese opposite number.
They were meeting in London to exchange greetings and to tell the World that they wanted to do business together, import and export goods to each other and to generally be good trading partners in an economic climate where the whole World has grown to realize that we all need each other.
Personally, I think they would have helped the cause even more if they had also had a quick snowball fight outside in Downing Street. It might have shown that even they, two of the glummest looking world leaders, have a fun, human side.
I supppose they haven’t got that much to celebrate at the moment.
Gordon Brown has those striking workers who are complaining about British jobs going to cheaper folk – Italians and Portuguese in this case. With unemployment on the increase you can see their point but, sadly, as is often the case, it is not as simple as that.
Like Mr Brown and Mr Wen say, we need more international cooperation to keep the economy going not less.
Sadly Mr. Brown doesn’t seem fun enough for the British people so he will probably fail in getting them to do sensible things to get out of the recession. They will vote in the sparkly new leader of the Conservative Party next year. Partly because he is new – well newer than Gordon Brown – and partly because he recognised the value, yesterday, of being photographed throwing a snowball.
Don’t you love democracy!
Mr. Wen, of course has none of those problems. Democracy is still an idle dream in China.
He is worried about striking workers though…and, even more alarmingly, striking unemployed workers.
20 million rural migrants are unemployed at the moment…there are another 750 million whose jobs are at risk. They used to work in the big cities and send money home to their families in the countryside. Now 15% of them have gone home to sure rural poverty whilst the rest are languishing in the cities – just waiting to spoil this year’s 60th. Anniversary of Chinese Communist Party rule.
Unavoidable facts do keep messing up politicians’ lives.
My own visit to China last year left so many impressions but one came to mind today. All those people, billions of them – they seem like statistics until you go to the country. Everywhere is crowded. Villages are not sleepy hamlets, they are over-crowded hamlets bustling with people – these days mostly unemployed ones too.
I saw building works springing up along all the main roads. It was a country of hope only a year ago. Now, like the rest of us, people are seeing that downturn caused by the nasty money making and money loosing bankers.
There are a lot of Chinese people there who could make our strikers look like small fry indeed.
Fortunately for Mr. Wen, he has ways of keeping guys quiet. Sometimes, given the enormity of the numbers involved, it is all too easy to see his problem.
Of course, here in the pretty snowy landscape it is easy to tut at Mr. Wen…God only knows how Mr. Brown or our probable new Prime Minister David Cameron would cope with such a gigantic problem. Bringing such a vast and relatively backward country into the modern World.
It is easy too to lament the state of poor old Tibet.
OK, the Chinese certainly intruded, marched around a lot and silenced more than a few opponents but, apart from some idealistic Californian and North London Buddhists, how many of us would really want Tibet to be returned to a medieval Buddhist state?
I am sure that the Dali Lama, just like his holiness Pope Benedict XVI, is a very nice man but the troubles of Tibet do not really cause him much physical discomfort in his leisurely home in a very smart part of India.
The Chinese labeled him the Gucci Priest in an unkind but maybe not entirely unfair cartoon.
I would like to see the whole of China, and many other places too, freed from totalitarianism but I also believe that we should be very careful about what we wish for as a replacement.
So everyone out there on icey paths today, be very careful how you go.


  1. It's so true. These collective moments of good natured madness don't come around often. It was the London equivalent of the New York black out of 2003. Everything just stood still for a day. Up on Hampstead Heath, Kite Hill was packed full of boisterous teenagers and all the adults and children shed their fears to join them in hurtling down the hill. We had a tin foil platter and a green tray to sledge on.

    There were those people who had to work though. My poor friend Rosie managed to walk all the way to her hospital and then got drafted into looking after the whole hospital because noone else could make it!

  2. The UK looked like such a delightful place to be yesterday. My corner of the US was hoping for something similar (at least I was) but alas just a dusting this morning. The worst (best?) of the storm was out at sea…heading your way perhaps?

  3. So pleased I was not alone in celebrating the snow.

    So, for once, we had the best of it in the UK and Tom’s tin tray (how nice to know it was green!) had the moment it was designed for whilst Anatole had to make do with a normal work day.

    Well at least Anatole, you got President Obama as your 2009 treat.

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