News at Nine, now. And our first story of course is
What everyone’s talking about today. The weather.
Yes, winter has hit, and hard. Lots of traffic
Snarl-ups this morning, with tailbacks of two hours,
Cars sliding on the icy surface after the first snowfall
Of the season. Hundreds of hub workers literarily
Frozen in gridlock on their way in from the suburbs:
Even those who left well before dawn to get a jump
On the rest forced to a slow crawl behind snowploughs
And salt spreaders – an army of which were out
All night, trying to keep the cars moving, and will be
In force for the rest of the cold snap.
Yet, it didn’t get
Any better during this evening’s commute, people
Still on the road as we speak. We’ll be taking you
Live, later to our on-site reports from a host of
Highways and byways, where there’s not much
Headway being made at all.
And what a shock
To the system; suddenly, the hot weather
We were all becoming so accustomed to, has gone
For now. The beer gardens and restaurant
Terraces, that were teeming last weekend, now
Deserted but for a few forlorn sparrows seeking
Crumbs under the drifts of their new white home.
While we’re faced with a whole lot of inconvenience
For the foreseeable future. Especially those travelling
Long distances, another thing we’ve become used to.
Wheel chains compulsory on certain routes; time to
Change to all-weather tyres and fill up on anti-freeze.
Perhaps only the kids are happy, with a delayed
Arrival at school and perhaps a free day tomorrow,
As it’s set to freeze hard again, especially in the hills
While the rest of us just shrug and get on with it,
Hoping there won’t be a power cut and we can get
The drive shovelled before our extra-hour-long drive.
Nevertheless, it’s worth reminding ourselves
That we used to be used to this, this used to be usual,
And for once we can go skiing or sledding, so get that sleigh
Out of the shed, and if you have kids make a snowman –
Making sure to film them, for they mightn’t remember
All this in twenty years, and think it a fairy tale.
Take them to the woods at least, for the first time
This year, perhaps, without worrying about tick bites
Lyme Disease and the other nasty bugs they transmit.
The flies, too, are dropping like they’re famed to, but
Have been plaguing us on our patios till now, and
The mosquitos are also finally dying so Deet isn’t needed
To keep West Nile virus and Yellow Fever at bay, till spring.
Next spring there might be fewer lines of those
Poisonous processionary caterpillars for your dog to
Get mixed up with, if this hard frost penetrates their nests,
Giving foresters a break in their pine plantations, too.
The farmers will also be happy, since the grasshoppers
Aren’t nibbling at their sown winter cereals now, and
Perhaps a crop will come up green before next year’s
Eggs are hatched and ravenous at the sprouting stalks.
As for traffic, well, better have your car buried
By snow, which at least you can dig out of, than have
It carried off down the street by a flash flood, like
We saw during last month’s devastating torrential rains.
So, before we go to our roving reporters, a quick
Recap of international news, including new warming
Recorded in the Greenland icecap, and a typhoon
Threatening the already soaked and suffering Bengalis.
I am delighted to read that Top Gear have dropped Jeremy Clarkson.
I know that Jeremy, deep down, as Russell Brand says of such people, is a beautiful soul, but is just misguided, yet I don’t think I could spend much time in the same room as the guy. Apart from his obviously reprehensible behaviour of late (and of not so late, as I talked about before)
, his program (and I say his because that’s the way most people consider it) is just not my cup of tea.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Jeremy.
But of course, it’s a revolving door. He’ll be back, grinning, on some other channel soon enough.
But it’s still a great day. An important day.
I’ll tell you.
But first, full disclosure: I am not a top gear fan.
I am also very happy that “fellow presenter James May has hinted that Clarkson, Richard Hammond and he “came as a package”.” I truly hope that it is indeed, the “end of an era.”
A better, brighter, more just less bigoted era might just replace it. One with fewer fucking cars, too, wouldn’t be half bad.
Aside from the fact that glorifying cars is not necessarily the best way to change society the way it needs to be changed, I just don’t see the draw/ appeal of a program talking about cars.
Cars are boring.
I mean, I have a car.
I need the car.
Not every day.
For most of my commuting, I have the lovely bike you see in the photo. It is proudly sporting the new 2015 membership sticker of WWF, my favourite charity helping keep some species from falling over the bring of the Sixth Extinction that climate change among other things (caused by cars among other things) is causing.
It’s a nice car. A Honda Civic.
But one of the things that galls me about Top Gear is the way they take the piss out of small cars with more fuel-efficient engines…
My daughter laughed the other day when she saw a Smart Car. “Look at the little car, Daddy. It’s funny.” she said. But she’s three. She knows nothing of energy conservation and traffic congestion. Grown men should know better.
Of course, grown men should also know not to be racist. Whether they are on the television before millions worldwide or not.
But getting back to cars being boring…
What most car enthusiasts don’t seem to understand is that cars are not cool.
Not even fast ones.
Only to other car geeks.
Yes, car enthusiasts are just another kind of geek.
And I can tell you, I know about geeks.
I write poetry, for god’s sake.
I have always loved reading and writing.
I used to keep budgies (that’s parakeets to you yanks.)
I used to show said birds in competitions.
Train spotting is no different to car spotting, really. The guys who think rockets are cool, and spacecraft, and astronomy, and comics, and science fiction movies, are more or less of the same ilk as those who bore me talking about how fast a car goes, how many cylinders it has, what the difference between horsepower and torque is…
I’d rather watch a gardening show. That’s my kind of geek.
Nevertheless, there are millions of car geeks. Who watch this programme.
So here’s why this is important news….
Over the last few weeks a lot of people said it would not happen.
But it fucking did…
And that’s important because the reason those people would have bet money on Clarkson getting away with it yet again is because the franchise was worth so much. Too much money involved. Can’t afford to lose the cash cow that is Top Gear and its syndication throughout the globe.
But the BBC, or whoever it is there who’s important enough to make these decisions decided that the money wasn’t as important as the moral right. Clarkson might make the BBC a load of dough, but sometimes money can’t justify things that we know are wrong – even though we see examples everyday.
So… if we can potentially lose money by doing the right thing in this instance, why not do the right thing in other instances?
The US could make lots of money from the Keystone Pipeline. But they don’t need it so bad they want to deal with the potential disaster of a leak, or the global climate change it will help intensify.
Fracking is a big source of revenue for states and towns, and the big powerful fossil fuel companies that do it, but having water we can drink without dying is more important.
Exxon Mobil and other such companies make billions in profits and hand over some of that to the politicians that grease the wheels. But reducing climate change is going to affect negatively millions more people than the few fat cats who will use their money to buy up real estate in Greenland while we all boil (or freeze in Europe, when the gulf stream stops).
There is no good reason we can’t do the right thing in these cases.
In some cases they already are. Because people clamoured for it.
We just need to keep clamouring.