Were it to occur today, there would be countless images. Pictures and video recordings would be instantly shared around the world, social media would be crowded with posts and shares and comments. A Google search today produced the first images of which I was aware, Dennis Bown, a local electrician had made a cine film of the scene.
This week, forty years, a blizzard swept across the West Country, cutting off entire communities for days. The fall of snow was not heavy by the standards of countries accustomed to such weather, but the gale force winds had driven the snow before them, leaving huge accumulations between hedgerows at the roadside and against walls.
On Saturday night, it was wintry, but the roads were passable. Getting up on Sunday morning to go to the filling station where I pumped petrol at weekends, my father told me I might as well have slept in: our country road was a series of drifts.
The following week was one when there was little to do other than look out at the whiteness. One day, I walked with my father as we made our way across fields that were almost snow-free to Langport, our small local town. We went to the surgery to collect prescriptions for various older people and then walked back in the eerily bright winter light. There were stories that the road to Taunton was completely impassable and a helicopter had landed in Langport to collect an emergency case bound for Musgrove Park Hospital. The BBC responded to the situation by establishing an emergency radio station in Taunton, its regular broadcasts of information, messages and advice were something very different from what one might now expect from a radio station.
The weather grew milder as the days passed, the roads were cleared, and, after a week of inactivity, life returned to its regular pattern; petrol was again pumped on the Sunday morning. The further education college reopened on the Monday morning and everyone gathered with their own stories. Life in our small village seemed to have been dull and uneventful when compared with the tales from elsewhere.
In retrospect, it seems odd that the week seemed to disappear from memory. While other unusual moments remained topics of conversation for years afterward, the blizzard seemed to blow out of our minds as quickly as it arrived. Perhaps, because it was an event affecting only part of rural England, it did not receive recall on national media, as would have been the case if a major city had been affected, perhaps it is because the means of recalling it were so limited. In our house, there was no roll of film in and we have not a single photograph of the time.