We drove into town en famille to meet up with a group of close friends for a traditional plate of mussels at Chez Léon. The restaurant, usually a busy super-industry with some sixty waiters and other staff bustling around, was half-empty. When we emerged at ten sleety snow was pelting down. We got into the car and arrived home almost two hours later – a trip that normally takes ten minutes. I know; we shouldn’t have taken the car in the first place, let alone try to get back in it. The problem was that all of the roads leading uptown had been closed by the police because they had all become treacherously icy and unscaleable. We saw buses and coaches and cars that had skidded all over the place and we soon realised that our best bet of getting east and uptown was to head west and downtown. After that, it was just a matter of driving slowly and carefully. But the image of the half-empty restaurant kept coming back to me. In this year of all years the last thing hard-hit shops and restaurants needed was a white Christmas.