‘South West Trains is currently only running a skeletal and intermittent service due to heavy snow across the network. We urge passengers not to travel unless completely necessary.’
As I gazed up at the screen and slipped, skidded and sloshed back to my flat on Monday morning, I was struck – along with 20% of the country, if duvet day stats are to be believed – by a curious mix of emotions.
“Brilliant,” the lazy side of my brain said. “Cheese on toast. Jeremy Kyle. Snowball fights. Deal or No Deal.”
For 24 years this has been the overriding feeling when confronted with an unexpected day off. But in recent times things have changed.
After completing the obligatory couple of hours of trying to work from home, I ventured out to build a snowman, but couldn’t escape the fact that I am a journalist, and journalists can never truly let their guard down and just have fun.
So I grabbed my video camera and made a film.
In this modern age of citizen journalism, where any Tom, Dick or Dawn can become a roving news hound, the pressure is on us journos when a major event hits the country.
There is so much competition that we want to prove ourselves, to be the only person with exclusive access to an area of the story, no matter how small.
On BBC London News on Monday night, one of their reporters (whose name escapes me) filmed his entire commute from front door to office, and on Tuesday cameraman Ian Costa captured his perilous drive to work through Hampshire using specialist equipment.
The point I think I’m clumsily trying to make is in extraordinary situations like this I develop a mentality as a journalist first, and a citizen second.
It’s not that I was under pressure to produce anything for my actual job. I don’t live on patch. I just felt a responsibility, a need to not just enjoy what was around me, but to report it.
New channels were inundated with snowy videos from viewers on Monday, many of which were better than mine and probably made by people with no conscious interest in video journalism.
An example of what I mean came when a member of the BBC’s radio news team recently took a holiday from work, during which time he chose to visit Washington for President Obama’s inauguration. Fair enough.
But he was subjected to merciless ribbing from colleagues when they discovered he had spent the whole time tied to his laptop, blogging away like he was the only reporter present at what was, in fact, one of the most widely-covered events in recent history.
We sometimes get an inflated sense of our own importance. The irony is that the video we finally used on Get Surrey to illustrate the fun of the snow showed someone gleefully screaming as they careered down a Guildford hill on a sledge.
I should learn to relax.