When I was a boy, in the 1960s, winters were colder and we had far more snow.  We used to get snowed in and toboggan on the hill.  It hardly ever happens now, if at all.

This isn't just my memory playing tricks on me.  The Energy Saving Trust confirms that over the last 40 years, our winters have grown warmer, although there are heavier bursts of rain.

I appreciate that the snow made travel very difficult earlier this week.  Up to six inches of snow fell across south-east England.  Sussex Police dealt with 213 weather-related incidents between midnight and 3.30pm on Monday - fortunately these were mostly minor crashes.  More than 125 schools in West Sussex closed on both Monday and Tuesday. 

When I arrived at the Palace of Westminster on Monday morning it was almost deserted.  But I do think it's unnecessary for the entire country to grind to a halt the moment there is the first sign of a snowflake.

From Boxing Day 1962 to early March 1963, much of England was continuously under snow, yet the country didn't shut down.  This was the coldest winter over England and Wales since 1740.

But 40 years later, we seem totally unable to cope.  The Local Government Association warn that if the current cold snap continues for more than two weeks then the country could run low on grit.

The burst of very cold weather has led some to claim that global warming is a myth.  That's a convenient argument, but it's nonsense.

As one academic commented, if it wasn't for global warming this kind of cold snap would happen much more regularly - just as they did in the 1950s.

With global warming we may see these extremely cold winters less frequently.  It's been calculated that we can expect another 1962-63 winter only once every 1,100 years, compared with every 183 years before 1850.

Even so, it would be useful if the country was prepared for them.

Michelle Taylor