Bad call

I normally return to Hull on Thursday evenings – I usually have academic commitments in Hull on Friday – and last night decided to follow my usual practice.  Travelling by train did not prove a problem: Hull Trains no longer offers Club 55 but it did deliver me in good time.  The problem was once I got to Hull.  It had witnessed another major snowfall.  I stepped off the train into about a foot of snow.  It took about about an hour digging my car out of the station car park.   When I got home, it took two passers-by and my neighbour to help get it into the drive.  When I got out of the car, the snowdrift by the side of the House came up to my waist.

In the event, I need not have bothered.  University authorities decided to close the campus for the third day running.  I could have remained in the London for debate on the House of Lords (the Steel Bill).  I could have had my usual lunch in the Bishop’s Bar.  Instead, I had lunch in the only place within easy walking distance of my house – Tesco’s. 

Still, I have made good progress on a chapter I am penning on the coalition’s constitutional reform programme and the tensions it generates.


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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32 Responses to Bad call

  1. Dave H says:

    You should have stopped off in Cambridge. Almost no snow here, it’s just very cold. There’s this strange chasm between the SE and Lincolnshire which missed the really bad weather.

    Of course, thirty years ago there would have been none of this nonsense of shutting schools. We only got a day off if the heating failed.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Dave H: Lincolnshire has certainly had some horrendous weather, as I can confirm from experience. I drove from Louth to Hull last week in an appalling snowstorm. When I was a schoolboy in Louth, I don’t recall school ever being closed, even on the occasions I recall the weather being as bad as it it is today.

      • Croft says:

        I suggest it’s Santa’s least helpful worker elf’n’safety. It’s a joke but then it’s a wholly self inflicted joke. Like many readers I’ve spent considerable time in countries where they have similar or worst winter conditions and everything largely functions as normal. I’d like to think eventually government will see sense and stop these idiotically cautious risk assessments that are the cause so much of the closures.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Croft: We do appear to be creating a risk-averse society. There are clear benefits in avoiding undue risks but equally problems if we don’t take risks.

  2. Carl.H says:

    There`s something quite surreal about a Lord pulling into his semi`s driveway in his Nissan Micra and then popping down to Tesco`s, with or without snow.

    Still had it been a large Country mansion the Nissan may not have made it up the 5 mile driveway. Aristocracy aint what it used to be !

    ( It probably isn`t a Nissan Micra and at a guess I would say in reality German and Black.)

  3. Jonathan says:

    I thought I was in the only part of the country without snow, but Dave H suggests otherwise. Here in Oxfordshire we had a superficial dusting two mornings this week, but otherwise no snow at all. Yet I hear reports about a foot or 15 inches of snow everywhere!

    It’d be interesting to know whether the Bishop’s Bar or Tesco provides the better value lunch…

    • Lord Norton says:

      Jonathan: Difficult to compare. The Bishop’s Bar doesn’t do cooked meals. And Tesco’s doesn’t offer a large pot of tea.

    • ladytizzy says:

      Oxford doesn’t do weather, does it? Yet, in the winter of ’81/82, the city recorded a temperature of -22C. One side of New Inn Hall St was cordoned off due to the magnificent icicles threatening to skewer pedestrians, bus engines stopped working, as did the central heating. It wasn’t good.

      • Lord Norton says:

        ladytizzy: I recall being stuck in Oxford – it probably was 1981/2 – at the annual weekend conference of the Study of Parliament Group. We were snowed in. I was on the last train that managed to make it to Oxford on the Friday. By Sunday, it was possible to get out, but in the interim we had to find speakers who were local because the scheduled speakers could not reach the city.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    Oh dear, digging the car out followed by waist-high snow and then…the deal-breaker of having to slum it at Tesco; my sincerest sympathies. It is quite nippy in Co Durham but if you are able to continue to Darlington station, a proper meal (sans peasants) is only a phone call away.

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: I suspect some of my friends, among whom I have a reputation for being quite partial to Little Chefs, will not regard my utilising Tesco’s as particularly out of character. I can cope just as well at a modest eatery as I can at a Michelin starred restaurant. Not sure if that makes me a man of the people…

      • ladytizzy says:

        I may be able to help you out; Heston Blumenthal has done the noblesse oblige stuff with Lille Chef in 2009 so you didn’t have to.

      • Lord Norton says:

        ladytizzy: I am not sure his recipes were rolled out to all the Little Chefs. Probably just as well. I am a man of simple tastes.

  5. franksummers3ba says:

    My sympathies.

    • Lord Norton says:

      franksummers3ba: Many thanks. It could be worse though. I did spend a Christmas living in (a freezing) Philadelphia.

      • Frank says:

        Lord Norton,
        In Louisiana we mostly complain about the lack of cold and snow at Christmas. I have seen it both ways (even here we do have a winter). My only London winter was chilly and folkloric but mostly mild. Cold winter I have spent in New York, Ohio, Canada, Yantai and Beijing in China, the High Sierra in Mexico and New Mexico and the odd truly cold winter in Louisiana and Georgia. The humidity here in the Deep South especially where I am makes the cold sting.

        Mild winters were in New Zealand’s North Island, Tonga, Greece, Southern California, and Colombia. I mostly was empathizing with the fact of being beaten about the head and shoulders by the weather. That vulnerability to the sky is something the hurricanes of the Gulf Coast and a life of traveling have left me some sense of perhaps. I imagine there are worse places to be than the place you mostly love and work in under sheets of fresh snow. I really meant I sympathized with the car, schedule, meals and meetings confusion as well as expense dealt out by missing your mark as a weather prophet I suppose.

  6. Carl.H says:

    At least you got a mention:

    ” These are the four provisions of the Bill, with which the House is now probably painfully familiar. I will conclude by quoting the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, who spoke in a previous debate. He was responsible for the drafting of this Bill, which has been expertly done. He said that there would be those in the House who regarded the Bill as necessary but entirely insufficient, and others who regarded it as necessary and wholly sufficient. He said that noble Lords could disagree on that, but that the one thing on which they should agree was that it was necessary.”

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: Many thanks. I knew Lord Steel was contemplating making that reference. I am always pleased when others quote me, since it seems to make my words sound more authoritative than when I uttered them.

  7. Alice Stretch says:

    Talking of school closures- I have had 3 days off, running into this weekend- it is like an early holiday. Here in Kent we have had up to 30cm, I’ve never seen snow like it. My sympathies for you of course and hopefully this “cold snap” will not last long.

  8. djb13 says:

    I find it fascinating that of all the posts on this blog, this one seems to have attracted the most comments in the shortest time. Clearly whilst the British find the constitution interesting, complaining about the weather is just too good an opportunity to pass up.

  9. Carl.H says:

    Yep, we call that Recess !

    • Frank W. Summers III says:

      Carl H. ,
      You are almost ready to come in as an American. With this e-mailed in they might waive all the other courses for US citizenship. This is the land where:

      “The best way to run for congress is to run against it if you have not been elected. The best of all is to run away from it after you have been”. Unknown

      “If I were an idiot or a member of Congress, ah but I repeat myself”! Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain

      “If you want a friend in Washington get a dog there”. Almost everybody.

      “Of course it was a close election my father said he would not buy one more vote than I needed”. John Fitzgerald Kennedy through my faulty memory.

      “The republic is safe. Congress is in recess”. Several prominent early pundits.

      Then of course there is that little love letter called the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps our most quoted Roman aphorism is that laws are like sausages one should not see either one being made. But I must say in the genre I think your contribution here is rather good. I honestly think it is in the top hundred pessimistic witicisms about governance and politics that I have ever seen.

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