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Friday, 12th January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Jan 07, 05:13 PM

Today Tony Blair said he wanted to launch a national debate on our defence policy in a speech made on HMS Albion in Plymouth dockyards. Should Britain be a nation of war fighters as well as peacemakers?

Also, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes will be reporting on the Great Firewall of China and how many people are now managing to get round the censorship.

Comment on Friday's programme.

Who remembers winter?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 12 Jan 07, 11:07 AM

snowman_203.jpgDo you remember snow? It’s that cold wet stuff you used to trudge through in the olden days.

I was reminded of the stuff – not by the weather of course – but as I looked through some super-8 footage of my family that my dad shot. It’s been collecting dust at my parent’s house for years. I dug it out because we were looking for images to use in the Ethical Man series.

I built the snowman with my sisters in January 1968. The shots of us sledging are from January 1971. It is beginning to look like my kids will be lucky to ever build a snowman in our garden.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that we used get great drifts of snow every year but we’d certainly get enough to sledge down Parliament Hill on every few years. You haven’t been able to do that for a while.

This year there’s barely been a decent frost. The country may have been battered by some powerful storms over the last couple of days but one thing has stayed steady, the temperature - this winter remains resolutely warm. Average temperatures in December were 1.7 degrees centigrade above average and the Met Office is already predicting that 2007 will be the hottest year on record.

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to discern the changes. Instead of frost and snow we’ve got bulbs sprouting in the garden and the neighbour’s cherry tree is already in blossom.

The weathermen say that the clement weather is down to a combination of global warming and El Nino and are saying that it may not last. (According to David Parker of the Met Office: “El Nino has a tendency to make cold snaps more likely in the second half of winter.”)

Here at Newsnight we’ve devised a plan that is guaranteed to bring on that chilly weather. We want you to give us your images of how winter used to be. Send your clips, pictures and assorted snowy ephemera to with "Winter Wonderland" in the subject heading. And try not to make the files too big...

A couple of days ago my colleague Paul Mason described Jeremy Paxman’s “famously quizzical eyebrows” as resembling a pair of squirrels. At the very least the prospect of more of your footage on the programme should keep them out of hibernation.

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