While the bibliophile and aphorist Samuel Johnson claimed that people of appropriate mental discipline could avoid talking about the weather, the British have found weather an irresistible topic of conversation. Storms are recalled with nostalgic exaggeration; accounts are rendered colourful after the fact.
The Beast from the East, as this latest cold freeze has been termed, stands as a form of climactic terror, storming its way through life without care or favour. Even the language is laden with suggestiveness, a Siberian nightmare forcing its way into the lives of Europeans with refrigerating potential. Ominously, it has been working in tandem with a storm innocuously named Emma.
Such is the mythological fear of unruly weather, intemperate and beyond placation. Omens are sought, fear noted. The Great Storm of 1703, as it was termed, led Queen Anne to call it “a Calamity so Dreadful and Astonishing, that the like hath not been Seen or Felt, in the Memory of any Person Living in this Our Kingdom.” Some 6,000 sailors lost their lives, a costly toll given British participation in the Spanish War of Succession. It also inspired novelist Daniel Defoe to compile The Storm the following year, a work considered a work of masterful journalistic assemblage.
Meteorologists in the UK have released their predictions suggesting that the freeze of March 2018 is the worst since 1962. Schools across the country have been closed – 330 in Kent alone. …