Britain in the snow, seen from above (source: BBC).
Britain in the snow, seen from above (source: BBC).
In Britain we are experiencing our coldest, snowiest winter for a generation. And our island looks as if it has been sprinkled all over with icing sugar.
I’ve seen a few people wearing fingerless gloves this season. It is bitterly cold at the moment – at or below freezing – so most people are bedecked in scarves, gloves, hats and winter boots. I don’t have a hat but I’m wearing that thick padded/quilted jacket I bought a year or so ago. It’s very warm and has a hood. It was snowing on the way to the station this morning so the hood was up. Not really ‘work attire’ but that’s fine.
I still don’t have the kind of warm winter boots I would like, instead I’m wearing hiking boots (the ones bought for Snowdonia earlier this year). They do the job but they’re rather clunky. I wish UGGS did boots for men.
So back to fingerless gloves. They’re sooo 80s. I have a thing about the 1980s. A kind of obsession, of sorts. Not because it was a ‘great decade’. For very many reasons it wasn’t. But it was hugely formative decade for me in so many ways. I have vivid memories. Something about the Zeitgeist of that decade I can’t ever forget. I’m hot-wired to remember it. Of course, fingerless gloves possibly didn’t originate in the 80s, but I associate them with that decade.
So I have a thing about fingerless gloves, the attraction to which I can’t quite nail. Mostly rooted in my 80s obsession, but it’s also perhaps a fetish of sorts.
When I think of fingerless gloves I think of:
Anyway, I’m wearing big, black, boring Thinsulate woollen gloves that someone gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I’m going to try and buy some fingerless ones at lunchtime. Want to reminisce.
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Another day of working from home and I now have cabin fever. I’ll go in tomorrow unless the weather really turns bad – which I don’t think it will.
Have just been out to do some shopping. Absolutely grim out on the pavements as much of the heavy snow (we had over 10″) is now turning to slush so it’s really disgusting. We do have sun and blue skies though, so that’s something.
We’ve had wall to wall coverage on BBC News24 / Sky News about the ‘snow event’ – the heaviest snowfall for 18 years. Much of the country was at a standstill yesterday and today – 5,000 schools are closed and a vast swathe of the country is still not at work (5 million today; yesterday it was 6.4 million).
I am reminded – as anyone here must be – of the British obsession with the weather, a fixation that at times seems to border on the messianic. Jeremy Paxman alluded to this on Newsnight last night. Really – it doesn’t matter what the weather is like in this country – a bit too dry, too cold (as it was in January), too hot, too wet, too windy – and there will be mass coverage and commentary across all strata of society. Whilst many national stereotypes fall slightly wide of the mark – this one most definitely rings true. For foreigners here (of which there are many), it must all be quite amusing to see how the British react (and an amusing article in The Times with overseas observations).
For my part, the novelty is definitely over and I really do want business as usual. This has been a long, long winter for more reasons than one. Extremely cold over much of January and now all this snow; am really hoping spring is around the corner.
So I’ve tried to work from home but have really struggled; I just can’t get motivated. I’m on email and on the phone with the office intermittently, but I can’t knuckle down. So I’ve been out to do some shopping. Am going to make my trademark meat sauce later (bolognese or cottage pie base and it is delicious – I’ve made it so many times) which required a visit to the butcher. I’m lucky because it’s a really good London butcher – a dying breed these days (and I have long lamented the fact that we don’t have a greengrocer here). So I bought 1/2 kilo of steak mince and also some cheese which caught my eye.
I’m always slightly perturbed by the way the butchers (it’s a family firm) don’t bother with plastic gloves or suchlike – as you’d get at the supermarket – instead using bare hands dug deep into the mince and then into a paper wrapping. Same when it comes to handling money – no cleaning of hands. They are salt of the earth types and the meat is very good indeed – so I tend not to worry, but I’ve always been a bit OCD about meat (and in fact don’t eat much of it – I don’t eat chicken or lamb on animal welfare grounds, for example). That said, British pork and beef I am partial to but I don’t eat the imported stuff.
So I shall cook a bit later. I may go down on my hands and knees and scrub the bathroom floor, too. I hate cleaning but it has to be done (in lieu of a male French maid!)
Oh, and I treated myself. Of course I blame Ryan. He plugged Robert Frank’s opus to such an extent that I just had to buy it myself (seems cheapest at Waterstones online though not currently in stock). So I shall look forward to that whenever it arrives; it’s on special order.
A frozen Greenland Dock, in front of Canary Wharf (Source: DT)
Apparently today is the most stressful day of the year as people are disillusioned, depressed and generally fed up as they return to work post-Christmas (well, those that still have jobs to go to). This long, bleak, Dickensian winter is taking its toll. We woke up to snow, even this far south. There is so little light throughout the day, a weak, shallow sun that doesn’t rise very high in the sky. Everyone keeps saying this winter is colder than in recent years. The temperature hovering around zero during the day and dropping to -4c or so overnight.
I knew today would be tough as I had a major tender to work on with the company’s number two. This was always going to be a difficult day. The start didn’t bode well. I couldn’t get on to the train due to massive over-crowding. When I got the next train (which required a deviation to my standard route as it’s a different line) I transferred onto the tube, only to be faced with major delays due to signal failures higher up the line. Instead of getting to work around 8.45am, I arrived at 9.30am. Not a good start. And it meant I didn’t have time to buy coffee on my way in. I don’t perform well without caffeine.
Having said all that, the day wasn’t so bad in the end and the tender we put together was decent. He also said some very nice words at the end of the day, about how much I’d done since I’d joined two months ago and how positive an impact I’ve made. This left me with good feelings.
I left a little early to go shopping. Unfortunately it wasn’t a success. I hit Covent Garden where the shops are wonderful, Neal Street especially. I couldn’t find any shoes I wanted at Office. I also tried some of the other shops. I then lingered a long time in Superdry which is one of my absolute fave shops. They don’t have a sale on (“we don’t have sales”, the shop assistant told me). I came close to buying a to-die-for leather jacket but the £230 price tag got the better of me in the end and I didn’t succumb. It was close to perfect but not quite right; the pockets were a bit too high up the body for my liking. Whilst it’s not on their website, some of their other jackets are here. I do love the shop. I have one of their ordinary/cheaper jackets which I love and wear most days. Very fitted, high ruffled collar (one of their trademark features which I covet) which is great for keeping draughts at bay.
I’ve ached today. I went to the gym yesterday morning (early, I was heading into central London at 9am – on a Sunday!) and had an OK session. But I ache today as I’m out of kilter and it had been too long since last I went (a few weeks). I’ve not been keeping up enough of a routine – something I need to remedy.
Oh, the other real news of today was that my new work trousers were an unmitigated disaster. Think John Travolta meets David Brent. Far too tight; unseemly. Just totally crotch and upper leg hugging but slightly flared at the ankle. Really don’t know how I could have bought them. Turns out they’re boot cut too (great for jeans, not good for work trousers) so I felt really self-conscious all day. I think I now know what wearing a corset must be like; restricting. And there are no pictures as it’s too embarrassing and I wasn’t going to try and set the camera up when I got home; instead I quickly changed.
Oh, and any thought of a diet went out with the Cornish pastis I bought at the station and which I ate when I got home. Mmmmm! Was enjoyable. Comfort food; winter food. I’ve also eaten salt & pepper crisps, a handful of salted peanuts and I’m now eating jelly babies. But it’s OK, in this cold weather you need high energy food…