IF our current cold snap is making you shiver and the very thought of a no-deal Brexit has left you chilled to the bone, then think yourself lucky – you could be living in America.
Quite apart from the fact that they have a completely unhinged President in Donald Trump, temperatures in some areas have plummeted to an incredible -50°C. Yes, minus 50.
In scenes reminiscent of the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, a polar vortex swept across the Midwest and brought a dozen states to a standstill.
More than 250 million people were severely affected as the deadly Arctic blast took an icy grip of the country, bringing it to its knees in way a suntanned Trump hasn’t managed (so far).
Chicago, Home of the Blues, has become the home of those turning blue as wind-chill temperatures dropped to a thermostat-cracking -70°C.
Gas burners were even put on some rail lines to stop the points freezing.
Warnings were issued to all residents to stay indoors, and not even think about going out, as a mere five minutes’ exposure in these brutal conditions could prove fatal.
But how would the UK cope if we were suddenly hit with a similar polar vortex?
Not well, that’s for sure, as was proved last year when the Beast from the East blew in.
The big freeze in the US reminds me of the first time my wife and I visited the country, to check out New York’s January sales.
It made sense as the exchange rate then gave you an incredible $4 for your pound. There were no luggage or seat charges, zero security delays and you could also smoke on the plane. Happy days!
We bought a VHS video recorder which came with thousands of air mile tokens.
So that should tell you how long ago it was: 25 years, to be exact.
We didn’t check the weather before we left and arrived during a snow storm and temperatures of -30C, dressed in casual summer wear.
I have never been so cold and we were both soon screaming in anguish, on a snow-swept Fifth Avenue, at the searing pain being inflicted by the icy wind on our frozen ears.
But New York was still open for business. It’s true what they say, New York never sleeps, even when the Hudson is frozen solid.
It’s also fair to say that all the dollars we had saved for the sales was soon spent on thick coats, woollens, balaclavas, boots, gloves and fur hats.
I looked so big and menacing that when I marched down the street, everyone, even the street-smart gang members would move aside when I approached.
Not so with the gruff security guarding the city’s many landmarks, restaurants and museums – they would pull me up at every turn.
One even thought I was an Irish terrorist.
Here at home, though, we should get a grip and stop moaning incessantly about our wee winter blues, not when you see what those across the pond have to deal with.
Finally, the AA have warned that anyone travelling in icy conditions should take a shovel, blankets, sleeping bag, extra clothing (including scarves, hats and gloves), a 24-hour supply of food and drink, some de-icer, rock salt, a torch, spare batteries, a can of petrol, a first aid kit and some jump leads.
I felt like a right tube with all that on the train.