Weather warnings

Rain drops in the water

When I was a trainee reporter back in the last century before emails, mobile phones and Twitter enabled us to find and report news as it happened, we used to actually leave the office to find our stories. One of my jobs was to stop off at the fire station and police station on a Tuesday afternoon to see what newsworthy crimes and misdemeanours had been occurring. It seems laughable now that we would discover that say, a Birds custard lorry had crashed into a fruit stall outside a primary school causing a massive hold-up and three days later you would be breaking news of the traffic chaos to an eager and oblivious readership.

Today you wouldn’t have time to get back to the office before some ten-year-old kid had beaten you to it, broadcasting photos of the chaos on Twitter captioned “massive jam in high street – will be a trifle l8 for school.”

Those were the days we churned the news out as slowly and lovingly as a tailor makes bespoke suits, and gasp… we did actually get to speak to people face to face. And as the flood waters begin to lap round almost every front door in the country, I’m reminded of the time I interviewed a wise old copper who seemed, to me then, to be as old as Dixon of Dock Green. One afternoon as I rolled up, hoping to hear something that would get me the front page, rather than the “pet komodo dragon on loose in suburb” like tales that were my usual fare, my trusty sergeant stroked his chin and said it would be slim pickings this week, because of the torrential rain. “Best policeman in the world, a spot of rain,” he added, explaining that burglars and muggers, like the rest of us, tend to stay home if the weather’s not looking too clever.

And it turns out shocking weather doesn’t just affect crime – it affects spenders the same way. According to the latest spending figures for January we are beginning to start to have confidence in the economy again – as illustrated by a 4% rise in spending on things like clothes and going out to restaurants, despite the constant unremitting rain that made last month the wettest January for a century. But when the temperature plummets it’s a different story. Last year’s horrendous cold snap and snow had such a dampening effect on people’s shopping habits that the figures have had to be adjusted by two per cent to take into account the “duvet factor”, which kept people indoors away from the shops.

So now you know – if you want to curb your spending, check the weather forecast – and if it looks like frost, snow or hail your credit card is safe. Mind how you go now…

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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