Britain's winter ends next week with further indications of a striking environmental change: the Independent is starting to disappear from our lives.
Being moderately left-wing while claiming you're not politically-aligned, deathly dull articles and the excitement of waking to find that Charles Onians has written an article on snow are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as the Internet produces fewer instances of anyone wanting to pulp a tree to find out what was happening in the world yesterday. Or, in the case of the Independent's politics, in the 1970s. The first two months of 2014 have been virtually free of copies of The Independent in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only a few purchases in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 30 years: in the whole of Britain in the 80s, the Indie had a circulation of 400,000 - whereas today, that is merely 65,000.
Once, under editors like Andreas Whittam-Smith, the Independent was truly a part of the establishment. It had an entitlement to be heard. But now, a general disinterest in dull, left-wing articles is accepted as a reality by the international community. And the whole idea that,to prove your magical powers, you have to chop down a tree and print out the thoughts of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is generally regarded as a memory of another time.
Children just aren't going to know what the Independent is. The effects of an Independent-free Britain are already becoming apparent, as fewer commuters sleep past their stations. Fewer people are panicking about snow-free winters, or realising they've mistakenly bought the Independent thinking it was the Guardian.
Of course, in the future, it will still be possible to have a virtual experience of The Independent. Via the internet, they might wonder at long-ago articles by Robert Fisk - or eventually "feel" virtual post-modern irony from Will Self. But once, people could hold a copy of the news in their hand, and wonder at how anyone could ever make a living printing anything that dull. Not any more, it seems.