The media and emergency services have been having a field day as storm ‘something or other’ complete with a weather bomb of unprecedented proportions of sun, rain, snow, hail wind, floods, (insert relevant description) which beats all records, hits the UK. The Prime Minister has called a meeting of Cobra to discuss the situation and emergency planning departments across the country are on standby to undertake their responsibilities under the Civil Contingencies Act.
Plucky Britons battle against all the odds to get to the airport only to find their holiday flight cancelled or fight their way to panic-buy a week’s supply of bread, milk and frozen meals, or fight each other for the last 20 quid’s worth of fuel at the local filling station.
Thousands suffer power ‘outages’, patients put at risk in hospitals, trains don’t run, traffic light failure causes pandemonium on city roads, the motoring organisations, police and highways give warnings not to travel, backed up breathlessly by talking heads in nice air conditioned radio and T.V studios as some lucky junior reporter is dispatched to interview a tearful members of the public blubbering on how their holiday has been ruined, how they won’t get home from the city tonight, how this will happen and that will happen, while never explaining if conditions were that bad how they got to the location in the first place. How Cobra ministers and service heads get to the meeting at Downing Street is never discussed; perhaps it’s top secret, or perhaps they have a ‘whats app’ closed conference, who knows? Who cares?
Pundits and commentators evoke stories of the Blitz spirit. Wait – hold it there – this is 2019, 19 years into the 21st century, children born at the turn of the millennium have left school, have jobs, drive cars, have left home, possibly in the armed or emergency services, and the media evokes memories of something that happened before the first half of the previous century was out, from a time before many of their grandparents were born.
Does this really sell newspapers? Do viewing figures of Breakfast Time TV and radio shows, together with rolling news channels, really go up? As much of the public, apparently mesmerised, not knowing whether to be shocked, stunned, confused or all three, watch them, demand instant answers from some ‘expert’ no-one has ever heard of, making extravagant claims (often without evidence or foundation) and unchallenged by some presenters often old enough to know better but who obviously have no idea of the subject in question.
Many people, obviously so terrified they are cowering behind their device keyboards, are only too happy to join the melee, with comments often so far-fetched as to make the casual observer wonder about the sanity of the writers.
We now have three generations or more of people whom, it would seem, have been programmed to panic at the drop of a hat, instructed to do this that or the other by ‘authorities’ and unable, it seems, to have an adult reaction to even a minor disruption in their lives. Just look at the headlines for example when an aircraft encounters some unexpected turbulence. Passengers interviewed are happy to recount their personal terror in exchange for their 30 seconds of fame on some TV news channel, will happily tell how they and others were praying, screaming and vomiting as the aircraft ‘plummeted out of control’ thousands of feet, before the crew regained control. Makes a good story of course, but just what the flight crew thought or said is almost never reported.
Does this wobbly lip syndrome stem from the risk adverse soporific lives that many people live these days? When from an early age they are mollycoddled by doting parents and grandparents who see danger of death behind every aspect of their lives, so unused to the reality of life and death that when something unpleasant happens, or good heavens something as dangerous as riding a bike or going out in the dark or cold and wet, it has to be avoided at all costs.
Have schools something to do with this? Children not allowed out in cold or wet weather in case somebody falls over or gets wet, a childish fall or banged head becomes a major drama as school medics rush to comfort a child who often then becomes hysterical as paramedics and ambulances are called and parents summoned, only to find that the child has suffered nothing more or less a tiny scratch on the knee or elbow, something that a couple of generations ago would have been ignored or treated with iodine and a band aid plaster (never used now of course as we all know these are very dangerous.)
Talking of danger, many of us will have seen children doing nothing more than planting in the school gardens (or environmental section) wearing gloves (non-allergic material) yellow tabards and plastic helmets – for safety reasons of course. I came across one school where staff went one stage further than that with two-way radio communications and a comprehensive first-aid kit used to accompany children from school to the local parish hall less than 400 yards away, and another school that had a register to be signed before staff could use a pair of scissors in the staff room.
Look at the panic during the last weather ‘event’ – which may or may not – (nobody seems sure) have been caused by something called a ‘power outage’ which, according to the media, was unprecedented heavy rain not witnessed and seen in living memory, followed by a power outage which brought ‘apocalypse’ to the streets, as traffic lights stopped working, trains stopped running, shops closed as cash points and tills went off line, mobile phones failed and drivers had, for once in their driving career, to make decisions and not gab on phones, text, smoke, eat, as many do on a daily basis.
[To be continued tomorrow in part 2]
Photo by vincentag