Snow news is good news

News can be like a house-party. It can be staid, civilized, focused and ultimately edifying, like cocktail parties you have when you’re thirty, or it can be good. By good I do not mean inherently, transcendentally, ontologically good. I mean good like the parties you had when you were 18, reckless, good looking and stupid were good. There may not have been helpful or important, but they were entertaining. Last week’s news was like that. We had David Cameron umming and ah-ing about whether he smoked cannabis at eton (is that what is meant by a ‘Green Tory’? I’ve always wondered), and all the associated questions that inevitably flow from such a story: ‘Is he fit to be Prime Minister?’, ‘Do we really care about his past?’ and ‘Dave, could you pass the Rizlas?’

Also last week came the ‘good’ news that actor Ryan O’Neil was arrested for assaulting his son, who was allegedly coming at him with a fire-place poker. The incident started out as a family disagreement and spiralled out of control. Not surprising, if you consider that O’Neil’s most famous role was in Love Story, the film that famously postulated: ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ Tell that to the judge, O’Neil.

Saying you’re sorry is the cornerstone of Restorative Justice, a complex approach to justice that, in some of its interpretations, aims to provide an alternative to prison in the form of making restitution to the victims of crime rather than the state. A study released last week showed that the Restorative Justice approach (which uses the Christian principles of forgiveness based on repentance and righting the wrongs you have committed), can greatly reduce the incidence of both re-offending and victims’ desire for revenge. The report, backed up by a former Chief Constable, came in the same week it was revealed that violent incidents in prisons had increased by 500 per cent over the last ten years and just weeks after the row about prison overcrowding and the appalling conditions it creates. Tory MP David Davies was on Radio 4 denouncing the scheme as ‘a soft option’ and ‘having a cup of tea with a social worker rather than going to prison,’ and stopping just short of shouting ‘kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!’ (well, that’s how I saw it, I might be wrong). Which was ‘good news’ because it showed just how far the Conservative Party has come in changing that ‘nasty image’.

But the real news from last week was the snow. It caused delays, school closures and traffic disruptions, and everyone around me loved it. And that was ‘good news’ because it provided amusement (the youth arrested for sculpting four-foot snow genitals in the street and the Scots in my office calling everyone else a bunch of ‘jessies’, striding around bare-chested, saying ‘this isn’t snow—I’ll show you snow.’) as well as an insight into culture. Personally I could have done without the ‘sky-dandruff’, as I like to think of it. I was on a train that had not moved for one and a half hours at about 11pm on Thursday night. In my home country, South Africa, the train would have been on fire and I would have been dancing half-naked round it. But the British are more patient. Nice English people made phonecalls to loved-ones explaining the situation without the slightest hint of bitterness, saying that this was nobody’s fault, just bad luck. Some of them were saying goodbye. ‘You’re the man of the house now, son. Be good to your mother. I love you very much.’ It was tragic. Yet nobody seemed to complain. No-one was standing on their seat shouting that it has snowed in this country’s winter for quite some time and yet still we have not learned to protect whatever it is that malfunctions in snow by putting a heater next to it or covering it with a bit of plastic. Myself, I’m of two minds. Yes snow is cool (no pun intended) but it is also flaky (okay that was intended). But then that is true of dopey politicians, angry actors and prison-loving activists too. And from my point of view, that’s good.

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One Response

  1. Well said and well written. I give you an ‘A’.

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