Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snow and Schools

Schools in Edinburgh have been closed for two days and won’t open tomorrow. Conditions are set to worsen up here over the next few days with temperatures dropping to well below zero along with chill winds from Siberia, which will ice up the snow on the roads and pavements.

All this is astonishing, as I can’t ever remember schools here being closed because of snow before, and it makes me wonder why this year. It must be because most schools can’t guarantee a minimum number of teachers will make it into work and it’s easier for the council to close all schools than to have parents ringing in thousands of times to enquire on the state of play in particular schools. But this must surely have been the case in previous years. I’ve read that gritters are out on the streets 24 hours a day, but even the main roads seem kind of slushy (and when it freezes tonight, they could become very dangerous) and the side-roads haven’t been touched.

Ironically, my wife does have to go to work. Normally she goes by car and drives around quite a bit, but today she took a bus. She is an Educational Welfare Officer and gives support to pupils and families where non-attendance is an issue. Well, nobody is attending this week! I guess it means she can catch up with paperwork etc. However, I can’t help wondering how she can make it into work and so many teachers can’t. Perhaps teachers gravitate to the far suburbs and live on hills or even mountainsides or down lonely country roads where no buses venture? Well..., teachers have a tough job these days and don’t really want to criticise them too much. When can the schools re-open? This is the point - the weather looks set to worsen and I bet the council are now kicking themselves for closing the schools on Monday. The council can hardly justify opening them until something improves, and there's no sign of that.

We will of course suffer an onslaught of poems about snow. I considered writing several dozen hopeless snow poems and sending them to my least favourite poetry magazines, but there’s always the risk that one of them might be accepted. Wallace Stevens and Louis MacNeice have done a fantastic job anyway and the rest of us may as well get on with writing about virtual train timetables or fruit-bearing bobsleighs or whatever the big subject is these days. I have been asked to name my three favourite books of the year. Now there’s a task to occupy a free few minutes...

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