Snow brings out the best

HAVE you cleared your section of pavement of ice? Will your boiler hold out until the end of the cold snap? How will you get yourself to work tomorrow?

The once-in-a-generation freeze that has Britain in its grip throws us all out of our routines and makes an issue of the most basic aspects of our lives – staying warm, staying fed and staying safe. Deprived of comforts we usually take for granted, we are thrown back on our wits and instincts, and although few of us are expected to show the resourcefulness of a Bear Grylls, the cold weather, nonetheless, is a challenge to us all.

And not just a practical challenge. While our first instinct is to keep ourselves and our loved ones protected, all the signs are that people across the country have been thinking of others as well as themselves. As our reporter discovered in Lanarkshire, pensioners' paths are being anonymously cleared, friendly strangers are offering lifts to laden-down mothers, and people like Willie Gault – who has been collecting coal for neighbours – are doing communities proud.

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At extraordinary times like this it is too easy to blame officialdom for ungritted roads and uncleared pavements. How much better for us to take some personal responsibility for the street, pavements and people in our immediate vicinity. Of course, it helps if the council has thought to leave a pile of grit at the end of the road for residents to get together to spread, but ultimately this is a time for individuals to rise to a communal challenge. We are all in this together.

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