Professional Ranting by Barbara Nadel

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Maybe I’m wrong in this, but I think that whenever I rant in one of these blogs, I get more responses from you out there, whoever you are, than I do if I’m calmer and more measured. Whether this is because ranting is more effective and/or funnier than any other form of communication I don’t know. But it seems to work for me and so this week I’m going to go with it.

It’s been snowing here in the UK and so, of course, nothing happens. Schools close, roads close, people run around like headless chickens looking for rock salt and rubbish doesn’t get collected. I’m lucky inasmuch as I went out and got rock salt last week, but I do (from the actions of the post office van that just shot past the house like a speed skater) live on Ice Mountain now and so should I want the odd turnip or pouch of rough shag smoking mixture, I’m going to be out of luck. Similarly, I put the rubbish out for the dustmen this morning more in hope than expectation. No one will come. I could have the rotting corpse of Benito Mussolini in my bin, but that doesn’t matter a damn to my local authority. Rubbish vans can’t do hills let alone mountains in the snow and so, dead fascist leader or no dead fascist leader, I’m stuck with it.

What I can never understand is why the government officials in charge of dealing with the snow don’t ever seem to try and find out why and how other more sensible countries cope. Do the snow bound Finns wait for months on end to have their rubbish bins emptied? Do Canadian roads close for three months of every year? Of course they don’t! These sensible countries have devised ways of dealing with snow that do not involve complete domestic shutdown.

It’s not often that I advocate fact-finding tours for government officials. In the main I think that they are pretty useless and generally constitute what some of us like to call a ‘right old jolly up’ at the public’s expense. However I do think that this is an exception. I think that several Saville Row-suited men from Whitehall should be taken to Finland, in the depths of winter and made to observe just what the Finns do to make their country work in such conditions. I’m not un-generous, I’d equip them with thermal underwear, polar fleeces and even allow them the odd shot of Finnish vodka to keep the cold at bay. I know it’s not exactly like a week at Silvio Berlusconi’s Tuscan villa but then life can’t all be grappa, circuses and nubile Roman strippers. Life’s also about passable roads, not breaking your legs less than a metre from your front door and being able to get rid of potato peelings, old knickers and dead Italian dictators whenever you need to. I don’t ask for much.

But the reality is, of course, that now the snow is with us, we are well and truly screwed. Luckily, I have a lot to do in terms of book writing and generally running my business and so not going out of the house is not too bad for me. For the moment. In about two days time cabin fever will hit and I’ll be so desperate to go out I’ll brave vast snow covered anacondas in the hall and even take on the yeti that will no doubt have taken up residence by the empty rock salt hopper at the end of the road. My bones, brittle with ice crystals, will of course crumble under assault from the massive hairy arms of the yeti and I will die, but at least I will have gone out half sane. Whereas if I stay in here for any length of time with only the whiteness outside and my own insanity for company…

I’m not what you’d call a winter person, as you’ve probably guessed. Like the men from Whitehall, I usually take my ‘jolly ups’ in places where there is no local word for ‘frostbite’. Next year in Jerusalem? I think probably not (a bit too nippy even there). İstanbul? Chilly and wet. Sorry. No next year I must plan ahead early and get out of this frozen hideousness very quickly indeed. I think we’re probably talking deserts. So look out for new Çetin İkmen mysteries set in the Sahara or the Gobi deserts. Oh and if Benito Mussolini still hasn’t been collected by then, I’ll be taking him along with me too. Sand, I understand, covers up a multitude of sins.

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