Category Archives: Edinburgh

Edinburgh Livin’: ‘Sno Problem

Scotland’s whiteout and it could cost millions” and “Let it Snow: Winter chill chaos for travellers in Scotland

The headlines of a Scottish national newspaper after a couple of days of snow. A few inches is all its takes for the headline writers to whip themselves into a frenzy about the chaos to ensue.

It is true that some schools and roads are closed, some flights and trains are canceled, some workplaces have closed early and there may be a financial cost to bear.

According to David Lonsdale, assistant director of the Council of British Industry in Scotland:

these conditions could end up costing the Scottish economy millions of pounds…There have already been construction sites in the north east where sites have been affected by poor conditions”.

Time is money but if construction workers can’t finish a building they are working on because of a couple of days of snow will it really cost Scotland millions? Can’t they do overtime to make up for it? Surely the builders’ clients only have to look outside their windows to see the pretty solid and cold excuse for any delay. And anyway it wouldn’t be the first time a building job has overrun – with or without snow to contend with!

Snowy street scene in Edinburgh

Enjoy the snow and the beauty of the lightly speckled winter scenery and don’t panic. Pavements do get icy and people do fall over. Trains get canceled and people do have to make other arrangements. But it’s good to fall over or have your train canceled now and again because it reminds us that we are only human.

As much as we like to think we are in control: we are not. We are vulnerable and nature does us a service by collectively reminding us all that we need each other. Strangers pull together for the few snowy days. Cars get pushed up hills and neighbours who never talk help clear each others pathways.

There is also the joy of sledging and snowball fights. These are not just the pleasure of the young. Parents, some of whom must stay off work for their children, have the pleasure of dressing them up warm, and trailing them on sledges to the park to enjoy the snow. A fun and loving time that would not otherwise be shared.

People playing in the snow at the Meadows

The snow also provides some much needed excitement into the working week. Workers chatter about the latest snowfall and the chances of finishing early. It provides some excitement and it unites us all. We don’t have to tune in for it. There is no reality TV snow show where celebrities compete for our affections by overcoming snowy days.

We get to experience this directly for ourselves. We can put on hold living vicariously through those slightly more famous than us for a few days at least!

This is a call to welly boots, salopettes and wooly gloves.

Forget the cost.

Embrace the chaos and chill out!

by David Paterson

Thanks to Edinburgh filmmaker and photographer Julien Pearly for providing some of the images.

A serene snow scene in Edinburgh

Frozen fruit and veg



November 30, 2010 · 1:11 pm

Edinburgh: Workplace Couture

Could telling your boss to f**k off be good for your health?

Elodie is from Paris and has worked in Edinburgh for two years. We got to talking about her thoughts on culture and the differences between Scottish and French manners.

I’ve had this chat before; it usually starts off with glowing about Scottish culture – ”…how friendly people are…”; “…the richness of the history”; – before getting to the meat of the matter: the weather; the obesity crisis, the drinking; deep-fried mars bars; and how scantily clad young nightclub going women are despite the sub-zero temperatures!

To my surprise these things didn’t come up and my planned quip: “We may have the highest rates of obesity and heart disease in Europe but at least we’re the best at something.” remained unsaid.

Instead Elodie told me about her experience of working in Edinburgh compared to her homeland. On first arriving, she was amazed by how polite the white-collar workplace culture was compared to France. However as time went by she began to find the pressure to always be polite no matter what the circumstances frustrating and dishonest.

It’s difficult to know what a colleague thinks because they are so polite. In Latin cultures if someone annoys you, or if you disagree, you tell them even if that means screaming at each other. Here you can’t do that, people take it personally…. but at home its normal.

The only time people here say what they really think is when they drink.”

I’d never considered our culture of politeness to be a bad thing, much less a repressive force! A hallmark of a civilised society I thought. However the sort of politeness that Elodie felt the pressure to conform to is about more than just saying “Good morning” to your colleague at the photocopier.

It’s an extreme politeness culture that places obedience over honesty. Honesty can be offensive or disagreeable. There is no place for the warm and fiery Latin temperament.

It’s an exhausting facade that causes us to repress our true emotions; politeness bottles up anger; it takes its toll. We seek refuge, a place to release pent-up anger and unbridled emotion. So we drink.  Not in a cafe culture of moderation but to uncivilised excess.

Is French rudeness a keener guarantee of health and contentment than bottling up anger and drinking to excess?

The next time your boss annoys you, and you find yourself readying a polite reply, resist.

Turn calmly toward him, with steel jaw and tell him to “F**k off!”

If only for the sake of your health.

by David Paterson


An Edinburgh worker says it like he means it!

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