In keeping with much of the country, our neighbourhood had a goodly fall of snow last week. Of course, to maintain my climate denial persona, I should now be saying, ‘So much for global warming’. But the reality is that it hasn’t been particularly cold for the time of year. I’d say instead that it has been seasonal, and I’m just pleased to see that, courtesy of entirely normal conditions for early January, children in my cul-de-sac were still able to make their snowmen – at least for the time being. That said, the Angel of the North tribute, constructed on the lawn across the road from me, is now looking less resplendent. Following a partial melt and loss of facial features, what had been a snowy humanoid designed for childhood entertainment has adopted the menace of a five foot phallus. I don’t remember it being that way in the Raymond Briggs story. No hat and scarf sat innocently in a pool of water for me. No, just an enormous white willy frowning through my front window. And I fear it will be there well into March.
Fortunately, I do have the option of closing the curtains after nightfall, whereupon my self-esteem and equanimity are readily restored. That’s also the time when I like to tune into the weather forecast on TV. Perhaps an unseasonably warm spell will come to my rescue and hasten the demise of our neighbour’s unplanned portraiture of icy manhood. Unfortunately, I was destined to be disappointed:
“Tomorrow’s temperatures,” I was confidently told last night, “will be between three to six degrees centigrade, which is four to seven degrees colder than is normal for this time of year.”
“Really?” thought I. Am I supposed to accept that 10 degrees centigrade is the new normal for the first week of January? Or is this just part of the brainwashing we are all casually exposed to nowadays? It may be cold and snowing out there but this is actually very unusual now for winter, our friendly TV weather girl appeared to be implying.
Intrigued, I decided to look this up on the internet, and this is what I found:
“Based on weather data collected from 1981 to 2010, across the UK, January temperatures average a daily high of 7 degrees Celsius (44 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of 1 °C (34 °F).”
I should point out that I am old enough for my meteorological expectations to have been established long before 1981. I am of older vintage so, for me, 1981 is actually the year the music died. As a child, I would put my little top hat on and join my friends skating the Thames, whilst mother would be cooking the biggest, fattest goose she could find in the butcher’s window. Nevertheless, an average daily high of 7 degrees Celsius is still a far cry from an expectation of 10 degrees. Furthermore, the figures quoted are for a January average, which one might expect to be significantly higher than that for the first week in January. For that reason, I am quite prepared to conclude that a first week forecast of 3 to 6 is perfectly in keeping with a monthly average of 7.
So what was the weather girl on about?
Don’t ask me. The UK government’s abuse of statistics during the covid-19 crisis has put me right off numbers. The weather girl can come onto my TV and say whatever she wants. None of it makes any sense to me anymore. A six has has turned out a nine. Ten is the new seven. Snow in winter is ‘wild weather’. Seventy three dead kittiwakes is still a moral victory. False positives are a conspiracist’s fantasy and nothing to do with one hundred years of medical science reality. The new coronavirus variant is 71% more transmissible, and that is a fact. And you have Ferguson’s word for that; what more do you want? The town down the road has just registered a covid case increase that is 71% greater than that of my hometown, so this must surely be due to the spread of the new variant. It can’t possibly be due to the fact that the town concerned has been, and still is, in a lower Tier.
The point is this. Whilst everyone is throwing numbers around without the slightest effort to ensure that they make sense, you might as well kiss goodbye to any hope of a rational world. If the weather girl is at liberty to play numberwang whenever it suits, then what hope remains? I have a five foot snowprick loitering with intent outside my window, but if I call it six inches the problem will just go away, won’t it? Why not? My fantasy world is as valid as anyone’s.