This could just be the start of it

ONLY a month ago, radio audiences were hoping that repeated renditions of that old musical chestnut, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, might somehow encourage those fluffy white flakes to descend in time for Christmas.

But now sentiment is being played to a different tune in the icy aftermath of December's blizzard, and yesterday's new snowfall.

Worthing, which enjoyed the best of the "global warming" winters during the past decade, has again been facing the bone-breaking reality of treacherous roads and pavements, and the jury is still out on whether West Sussex and the country as a whole can afford to have a Russian-style answer to keep us moving.

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We are hearing increasing derision '“ even antagonism '“ from the man-in-the-street over those climate-change claims. Even though the Met Office says 2009 was the 14th warmest year in the UK since records began in 1914, we in Worthing can only recall the dreadful pothole damage which last winter's weather inflicted on our roads.

Only last month, our empirical experience of chillier winters was confirmed by the Met Office's revelation that December, 2009, was the coldest in Britain since 1995.Much of the rest of the world's northern hemisphere is also having an exceptionally cold winter. One result of this ultra-lengthy "cold snap" has been a sharp rise in chimney fires attended by the county council's fire and rescue service.

Those of us with longer memories will recall the regular fire brigade call-outs to deal with chimneys belching filthy clouds of yellow/black smoke.

But cleaner fuels has encouraged a trend for home-owners to unblock old fireplaces and chimneys and revert to open fires or wood-burning stoves, providing a style feature and, perhaps, an economical complement to their central heating.

These colder winters also make one wonder if gardeners' plans for Mediterranean-style gardens may have to be put on hold. It must be dispiriting to plant a temperature-sensitive feast for the eyes, only to see it wiped out by a Siberian blast.

Let's hope that those attractive, drought-resistant displays installed by Worthing Council's parks department in the last three years will survive into the summer!


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