Don’t be fooled. There’s much more to the UK than just London.
After a weekend of stormy weather in the UK, in which Storms Malik and Corrie brought winds gusting to 150kph, killing at least two people and leaving tens of thousands of homes without power, residents in the South East of the country are still harping on about their hurricane back in October 1987.
And that was a very windy day, but it’s always interesting to note that it’s the storm that most people remember, even though there have been many, many worse storms in the UK during the intervening 35 years. The difference, of course, is that those storms didn’t affect London, and so ended up way down the list of things that the news programmes reported on. Even the events of this weekend only made it into this morning’s BBC radio bulletin after articles on politics and covid, politics, covid, and house prices. You can be damn sure that if the storms had been in London, it would have been a different story.
This sort of thing leads people to believe that storm warnings in the UK are blown (no pun intended) a bit out of proportion. But they get that impression because they live in London. If they lived in Newcastle or Belfast or Inverness, they’d maybe get a bit more of a genuine UK experience (especially weather-wise!), but for many people (much like the BBC) the UK = London = the UK. And talking/reporting about the weather is often a really good example of this London-centric approach.
“The UK has completely closed down because of the snow, but it was ridiculous, because there was only a tiny covering,” exaggerated one Saffa friend living in – you guessed it – Putney. Never mind that there were 20ft drifts on the Pennines, and Hexham was cut off for a week. Those places don’t exist to people living in London.
I guess it’s the same in SA. We hear about all the stuff in Cape Town, Joburg and Durban. Less so Gqeberha, Upington and Bela Bela. Is it because nothing happens there, that they don’t think we’ll be bothered, or that it’s just too much effort for the news crews to get out into the wilderness?
Having lived outside London for all my UK life, I can tell you that it’s almost certainly that third reason. And I do think that the BBC are getting a bit better, now that at least some of their operations have moved to Salford in the godforsaken North.
But once again, that improvement was sadly missing in today’s order of stories.