Here we go. It is winter and it is getting cold, freezing cold, shiver your timbers cold. It is winter. That is what I expect in winter. But when I read the newspapers or watch television you would not think so. Now is the time for headlines. Winter is no longer sufficient. It has to be 'record low temperatures', 'lowest since records began', 'the big freeze'. It isn't of course. It is winter, and when I look at the story under the headline we find that it is the lowest temperature recorded in some obscure part of the Britain.
Headlines. We live by them. There is that phrase I hear used often 'the headline figure'. Beware of them is what I say. It is all designed to make us feel that something awful is happening, when it is simply winter.
Now this isn't to say I don't believe it when we are told that environmental change is causing changes in weather patterns - more stormy weather, more floods, more heat waves, more...snow. Winter. Since records began is a wonderful phrase. I have no idea what it means. Sometime ago they started recording somewhere, and things have changed ever since. It is the wettest, it is the driest, it is the coldest, it is the warmest, it is the worst, since records began. Hardly anything is better. It is worse - worse than when 'records began'. But when did records begin? That differs depending on the story. Where did records begin? That differs depending on the story. It is a catastrophe, it is a disaster. Catastrophic is a wonderful word. Of course it is. But what does it mean? An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster. It is winter. It is the New Year. Well, almost. We like to look back on the year past as the 'worst on record'.
Some newspapers have totted up the number of aged rock stars who have died. Apparently this year has been the 'worst on record' for that. One after the other, we lost them. Of course we did. And next year will be the worst on record. And eventually none of them will be left - and that will be a catastrophe.