If you believe everything the papers tell you, Armageddon is upon us. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have stocked up on saddle soap and sugar cubes, Jupiter and Saturn have come into alignment and St. Peter's got the Brasso out and is buffing up the pearly gates ready for the new influx of residents. Why? Because it's about to snow.
The Daily Express refers to "screaming snow gales" and the Daily Mail has christened it "Snowvember". So witty! How do they do it? Never mind the fact that we had snow in October last year -- the Daily Mail has pictures of a light dusting of snow. In northern Scotland. In winter. Was anyone else as underwhelmed as I was?
Whether we'll get "screaming snow gales" or not is a point for debate in itself. Anyone remember the nationwide hurricane-force winds we were promised last month? Aside from some areas of high winds (and, of course, some regrettable casualties and deaths), the fear and panic caused by some areas of the media was almost completely unfounded. Even the Guardian has a headline on their website at the time of writing which promises "wintry conditions". In winter? Well, blow me.
I mean, I don't know what a weatherman's pension's like, but I can only imagine Michael Fish's will be nicely topped up again by more television appearances in the coming days and weeks thanks to the media hyping up what will, at best, be half an hour of light sleet, and at worst a couple of inches of completely seasonal and to-be-expected snow. I hope it's the former, of course, but not because of any direct concerns about the weather.
No, the main issue is people. If and when it does snow, people get sucked into the media hype once again. We're told to drive carefully. Well, of course. You should drive carefully anyway, and be sure to leave a greater stopping distance in the snow and when the roads are wet. Unfortunately, the reaction of many is to crawl at such a slow speed that their car gets completely stuck in the snow. Others will become impatient with the crawler and drive more aggressively in response. Neither is ideal, is it?
And where are all these people going? On the whole, it seems, to the supermarket to stock up on tinned and dried goods so they can fill their Anderson shelters in time for the dawn of Armageddon. Better rush to fill up your cars with petrol at the same time, just in case. And why? Because it might snow. In winter.
You see, the Germans have got the hang of it. After tens of thousands of years of human civilisation, they've noticed that it tends to get a bit taters at this time of year. Quite often, snow will fall. It happens every year. It's pretty reliable. As a result, they fit snow tyres to their cars every year. They clear paths and driveways and know how to operate a vehicle in the snow. They don't panic about it -- they're prepared.
So, can we please stop the panicking? Here's a handy list to print out and stick on your wall for future years, just in case the regular seasons should take you by surprise again:
SPRING -- Getting warmer
SUMMER -- Warm
AUTUMN -- Getting colder
WINTER -- Cold
And if you're a newspaper journalist, behave yourself. Go and find some news.