To be printed 14/01/10.
This last year has brought about some sad milestones in my ageing process. It was the first Christmas we didn’t leave a mince pie and sherry out for Santa (though considering my youngest sibling has started shaving, we’ve had a pretty good run), it was the first year I didn’t use a sparkler to do the S-Club ‘S’ in the air, and, most poignant of all, it’s been the first year I haven’t been excited to see snow.
It’s distressing, it really is, the first time you look our of the window to see the white flakes falling and your instinctive reaction isn’t whoops of gay abandon followed by visions of tobogganing larks, snowball fights and being allowed to drink hot chocolate once an hour as a sensible health precaution, but instead, “Ruddy marvellous, that’s my trip to Tesco scuppered”. It feels like defecting to the Other Side, joining the ranks of the enemy who tut about grit and rail delays and bah, those schools could have opened, the kids don’t know they’re born.
Perhaps I’d still have found it in my withered, miserly heart to be excited if I’d actually got a snow day like you folks did. I would have LOVED a snow day. There’s such a perverse pleasure in that feeling, of having numerous things you ought to be doing but physically not being able to do any of them – time is suddenly suspended, and you are freed of all obligation except to eat biscuits and look out of the window once an hour. It’s brilliant. But sadly, one of the downsides of living in the metropolis is that we’re always the first place that gets up and running again. Because it’s where all the celebrities live, I presume. So the tireless semi-competence of Transport for London has meant I’ve been going into the office every day, while you’ve all been building giant snowmen without me. I know you have, admit it.
From where I’m sitting, the rest of the country has suddenly taken on the allure of the exotic. Using the little nuggets of snowformation I keep overhearing on buses and stuff (“Up to their necks in Gloucestershire!”; “My Yorkshire uncle hasn’t seen his dog in four days”) I’ve sewn together a sort of mental tapestry of how Everywhere Else looks. In it, people are racing huskies through town centre precincts and skating on frozen lakes like scenes from Victorian biscuits tins.
And in my imagination, while they’re doing it, they’re wearing wellies. And snow boots, and tennis rackets strapped to their feet, like the sensible, snow-hardy folk they are. Meanwhile, tramping over my very non-imaginary pavements of compacted ice and slush, I’m wearing heels, because they’re the “grippiest shoes I have.”
Honestly. After a swift appraisal of my 56-strong shoe collection last week, I was forced to conclude this: I do not shop for nature. I have plenty of flats, but they’re all slippy-soled, foot-bearing affairs. I have boots, but they’re more hole than shoe. I have plimsolls, which are grippy but also made of canvas, serving as much use in the snow as shorts made of sponge cake. And I have heels. Heels in which I’ve spent all week stumbling to and from bus stops, with people looking at me like I’m Mad Auntie Millie, who lives in an attic and thinks she’s Duchess of Fife.
Which is proof if ever there was that I don’t deserve your hardcore provincial snow. I couldn’t hack it. I would have got buried in a ditch somewhere last Thursday, and never be seen again. I will content myself with my unexciting, semi-inconveniencing snow and leave the dramatic stuff to you folk. But I do plan to write my name in the slush with a twig. I haven’t lost all sense of fun, after all.