I must be truly British because I love stuff about weather! Over the last weekend I was in my element albeit over the severe weather happening over in the States. The news channel was full of it and when the weather experts’ opinions were given there was always a twinkle in their eye as they discussed record snow fall, high winds and low temperatures.
What was so amazing was how easy it was to be caught up in it. Here was this significant weather event happening thousands of miles away and yet we could keep up to date with an hour by hour report on how the weather was developing. We could almost have been a part of it. Thanks to technology we could even tune into webcams showing the streets of Washington to see the cars struggling through and the odd pedestrian out and enjoying the elements. As the weekend developed and the weather began to ease we saw the news conferences given by the Mayor of New York and other officials. A number of things struck me watching these, and I couldn’t help but compare attitudes. Firstly there was an acknowledgement that it was going to be bad, so straight off people were sent home, schools were closed and traffic was banned from the streets. That degree of community resilience and guidance from authority is impressive. It is my experience that in our country there is little guidance. You might get a warning and advice not to travel, but much more is left to the individual’s decision. The instructions there were much more forthright. Here there is more a feeling that no one wants to take the responsibility and tell it as it is in case it upsets someone! For example I am still waiting to hear details about the review of the debacle of how the big water main burst was handled at Hailsham last year. It was atrocious! The other thing that struck me was that as each person spoke, right alongside there was someone signing for the benefit of the hearing impaired. Again, over here people are left much more to their own devices and left to fend for themselves. There is seemingly very little regard for hearing disability. I was cross in my former diocesan role at just how poor the provision was for the hearing impaired and was confounded in my attempts to appoint a Chaplain to the deaf.
Somehow in our country we are not quite getting it right on a number of issues and the snowfall in the States has highlighted to me just how far short we fall!