Saturday, 22 November 2008

John Kettley, arctic winds and the cold of my childhood

When I was a child, Novembers all seemed to be freezing cold. I remember chapped legs that rubbed together and knee high socks and short skirts. We didn't wear tights then. I'm showing my age. I remember black nights and frosty mornings and wet, steamy kitchen windows where rivulets of moisture ran down the panes into puddles along the paintwork onto the skirting boards. I remember seeing my breath in the frigid air when I ran home from school and waiting at Mile End station for the next train to Upton Park, when all the passengers on the dim platform kept jiggling around and slapping their hands together because the gusts of arctic wind throughout the tunnels flew under their coats and scarves and hats and it was really cold!

This week the papers and the television channels were full of how cold it was going to be this weekend, as if we never have cold air in this country. We were going to have 'an arctic spell'; there would be frost and biting winds and snow! What? Isn't it winter? Don't we have cold weather in winter? Why do we have to be warned to 'stay indoors' and 'wrap up' and not to go anywhere in Norfolk because they might well have 'one inch' of snow! Golly! How exciting to have winter in winter!

Yesterday it started off pretty mild but, as the day progressed, it did indeed get colder, so that by evening people were in their winter coats and some even had gloves on and scarves around their necks. I took the dog for a brief walk into the village and on my way back home I spied a little boy walking along with his mother and sister. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. That's it. Mum carried his anorak. Gosh, he obviously didn't feel the cold! Maybe I should have tardissed him back to the 1960s of my childhood and he would know what cold weather is. As it is, he didn't have a clue about those 'arctic winds' and the 'unseasonable' weather fronts that John Kettley and all the 'experts' were raving about.

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