News just in: Leaves blown from trees
PUBLISHED: 11:30 17 June 2018
(c) copyright citizenside.com
In the early days of the Internet we were convinced that society would be destroyed - and young people corrupted - by easy access to online pornography.
But society has survived so far and most of the young people I’ve met are very well adjusted.
Ultimately, I guess people soon realise that the real thing is better than screen voyeurism.
An underestimated menace is something that is searched for online far more often than sex - the weather.
We were an easy target, for Britain has long been a nation obsessed with meteorology. How many conversations start with a comment like: “Turned out nice today” or: “They talk of rain”?
And so the internet has fed our addiction, along with 24-hour news channels and smart phone apps.
If we want to, we can be checking the weather at any time, in any place.
We can search for the forecast for locations all over the globe or right on our doorstep, or watch a TV forecaster giving it the 21st-century Bill Giles, complete with whizzy graphics and cutting-edge software.
No matter how much infinite variety there is, though, have you noticed how often it’s a “chilly start to the day?”
At the EDP, we’re able to closely monitor how many people read each of the stories on our websites and weather often features among the most viewed.
It makes it very tempting to unleash an endless stream of stories about possible snow, wind, rain, sunshine - then others about actual snow, wind, rain and sunshine. Not to mention the “narrow escape from snow” headlines if we got it wrong.
On Thursday, I toyed with the idea of putting a story on the EDP website with the headline “Will Storm Hector hit Norfolk?”
It would’ve been a short story, comprising one word: “No.” (Although a BBC East weather forecaster did warn of “leaves being blown from trees”, so not far away from actual chaos.)
There’s a healthy creative tension in our office between my colleague Ian Clarke, who is a weather aficionado and loves telling us what we can expect in the coming days, and me.
I’m from the “for goodness’ sake, it’s only weather, it’s not an exact science, so let’s write about other things”.
We live on a small island, surrounded by water, subject to the influences of the Gulf Stream, Southern Europe, the Arctic (there’s no land between the north Norfolk coast and the North Pole, you know?) and even Siberia.
Our weather is changeable, yet people are still surprised when we get a cold snap, a hot spell or winds that do more than separate leaves from the mother-tree.
It’s not a shock, it’s called living where we live.
I hardly bother to look at weather forecasts because I don’t want to worry for days about something that I can’t control, and that is highly likely to change before the day arrives.
Despite this, countless people live their lives on the basis of what Carol Kirkwood said or the iPhone weather app tells them.
I know of people who cancel events or stay at home because the long-range weather forecast didn’t look good - only for the sun to shine its bright light on their silliness.
I prefer to live on the edge, risking the odd soaking or occasional unexpected sunburn - but hopefully nothing as serious as being hit by a falling leaf from the whiplash tail of Hector.