When London cast its care aside and became a great white wonder
Simon Jenkins Simon Jenkins

…I therefore cry plague on all these negatives. Outside my front door, residents were shovelling, smiling and joking. They commented on the sheer loveliness of the scene and took pictures of it. They never do that normally. Children threw snowballs and, with no school, dragged sledges and trays to the park. Near the Evening Standard offices, surely London’s biggest snowball fight was taking place in Kensington Gardens, with more than 50 people having the time of their lives.

Health and safety went to hell and enjoyment was on every face. There may have been misery aplenty somewhere, but for once it stayed indoors. My London yesterday seemed incorrigibly happy.

In other words the city did something it rarely does. Forced by circumstance to stop working properly it could only look itself in the face and see that face in a new light. With mobility reduced almost to zero – how blessedly empty the streets looked – London had to go local, retreating to its component streets and neighbourhoods. It might have been celebrating a jubilee of nature, with every park given over to some midwinter ritual.