I thought that I would record my impressions of the current weather, which is the most extreme that I can remember. I myself am fortunate in many ways, but not unaffected by it. If I were older, I think it would be a terrible season.
I need hardly tell anyone in the Eastern Counties what a cold winter this has been. Snow began to fall and settle in the middle of December. I do not recall a year in which we had snow on the ground before Christmas, but so it was this winter. The roads then were impassible for a day or two. I ended up at home, which was not unwelcome then. Over Christmas it was dull, as it usually is. Then January brought another lengthy spell of snow on the ground and impassible roads. More dull cold days followed, and then this week another covering has arrived. Perhaps tomorrow there will be more.
It is now almost two months since we began to have bitter cold and snowfalls. Someone said to me ironically, “Ah, that’ll be the ‘global warming’, then”.
In my office, almost everyone is ill. All of us have had several days off work with a cold. The symptoms begin with congestion of a quite fantastic intensity, thankfully short-lived, and then the usual symptoms. I think I used about 6 boxes of tissues in a week. But although we have all returned to work, we all cough incessantly. All of us feel ill, and enervated and listless. Cold seems to worsen the coughing.
The mainly foreign-owned “big six” gas and electricity companies have raised prices over the last couple of years whenever the wholesale price of oil rose, but not reduced them when it fell. They are widely suspected of running a cartel. Many a poor household must be afraid to turn on the heating, and afraid not to.
I have had great difficulty keeping my own house warm, for the first time I can remember. At times I have resorted to leaving the heating on all day while I go off to work, because I don’t want to return to a cold house. Probably I feel the cold more, because I’m not well. Every night I have an electric heater on in my room, because otherwise I cough and cough. But all this means I must pay for more heating, and most of us must be in the same position. The price of such energy use must be heavy, and is yet to come. Even I am somewhat worried about the power bill that must be coming in. If I were 20 years older, and on a restricted income, I think I would be very afraid indeed.
Prices of everyday things rise every day. The government has been printing money — “quantitative easing” they call it — which becomes visibly the devaluation that it always was. To get enough food, again you need money. Those on fixed incomes must know fear.
I do not know whether they still keep bills of mortality, but the death-toll this winter must be heavy. To the well and the young, it is perhaps just a nuisance. But this is the weather that kills the old and the sick, the poor and the vulnerable. There will be many children who lose their grandparents this winter.
We do not deserve it; but may God have mercy on us.