It’s beautiful outside. The bricks and trees and sheds of the back gardens onto which my kitchen study stares are awash with the cold fire of the late day sun. I see bright orange chimney pots. I see wet trainers on window sills. Colourful clouds are breaking apart and atop the stark, expectant, profoundly aching soil, the last of the remarkable snow is inching into oblivion. It’s almost dry now, but for a while back there the roof of the garden shed was like that scene in Bambi. You know the one, drip, drip, drop …
I know it’s not April yet, not by a long chalk, not by a chalk so long that it more closely resembles an ostentatious cane, but Spring is definitely somewhere close at hand, I feel it. I can sense it stirring. Even the poinsettia has started to squeeze through a few new leaves.
Ah, yes. Spring is in the post.
All we need to do is see out the winter. This disconcertingly chilly winter, not without its discontent.
Adopt generic Richard the Third voice and bellow out that I, yes I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty to strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion, cheated of feature by dissembling nature, deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made up… Fie. Fee fie foe fum. Let me not think on’t.
So, on Monday evening I was denounced, cruelly but I fear, appropriately, in the comments section by one calling himself Wellington. Sweet, stout-hearted Wellington, of the brave, snow-spattered sole.
Drop generic Richard the Third voice. Stop bellowing. Point, nay, jab finger.
Bloody hell fire, Stanley, you snivelling sack of shit. What the hecking blazes is wrong with you? "My cock hurts, my bum hurts, my tooth is broken, I've got a tickly cough, I'm not losing enough weight...."
Jesus H. Get a bloody grip, will you? Please.
Obviously, I'm (sort of) doing the old 'cruel to be kind' thing here. But seriously, I've never known anyone to whinge the way you do. Not even close.
Initially this hit me hard - like a giant conker in the gullet - and I repudiated it. But when I’d had time to think, and dry my tear-swamped bib, I thought, you know what? He’s right. He’s only gone and hit the nail on the head.
So I said, ‘Fuck it!’ and I grabbed Morag and dragged her out of her comfy armchair and outside into the vicious snow. I’ve made it sound aggressive. It wasn’t aggressive. We went for a walk. That might be a less emotive way of phrasing it. We went for a walk. In the snow. At my behest. I was determined to make the best of it. And I don’t say that in a grudging way. I was determined to open myself up to the alleged joys of snow.
When I was a kid, I was cruelly persecuted by juvenile snowballers. I’m not whining, honest. I’m just saying. I’ve suffered. You know? Once some little fucker - I think it was that buck-toothed psychotic little parasite Liam McDonald - packed a fat stone inside a snowball and split my head open with it. Ever since then snow has freaked me out. I’m still afraid of little kids when I’m out in the snow. I butch it out as best I can but the fear is still there. They can smell it.
It’s not the snowballs themselves that frighten me now, it’s my reaction to them. I’m afraid I’ll get it wrong because I’m a bit wound up by thinking too much about it. I’m afraid I’ll either laugh it off in a really fake way, a way so obviously fake that it’ll light the tiny touch-paper that sets off a bloody great cluster bomb of antagonism in the souls of my assailants; or else I’ll attempt to join in, I’ll make my own snowballs and fight back, a good-natured battle will ensue with shrieks of joy and delight all round, then one of those little bastards will get a little too feisty, pushing snow hard into my face and suddenly, in a cold white flash, it’ll all come flooding back. I’ll have a complete cleaning woman moment, all my backed-up rage for the unavenged attack of Liam McDonald suddenly coursing through my mental arms, quite out of control, pinning this helpless child to the crunchy cold snow and stuffing handfuls of the stuff down the back of his coat. Then his parents appear from nowhere and before I can even breathe straight, I’m on page 4 of the News of the World. SNOW PAEDO STOMPED TO DEATH BY MOB.
I know it’s probably not that likely in the harsh cold light of reality, but it’s still a risk. And besides that, I just don’t like snow. Not in the city at least. But heavens, give me a countryside snowscape and I’ll dance through it like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Nureyev. On ice.
So, bearing all that in mind, we went to the nearest park, which lies roughly ten minutes from our house.
And you know what? You know what, Wellington?
It was really lovely.
We crunched and creaked over virgin snow, trusting ourselves wholly to the solid presence of the ground beneath, and not entertaining, not even for a minute, the idea that there might not be any.
I took some photos of some of snow sculptures. People had been having a whale of a time. I wished I had joined them. Instead I took photographs.
But I can’t find the cable to attach them to the internet. Damn it. Oh well, the internet will have to cope without a few more pictures of snow.
But believe me, there’ll be no more whining from me.
Now I’m thawing out some frozen beef and awaiting the return of Morag so that we might feast on cooked meat and together read from Chris Moyles’ remarkable second book.
Here’s to a fully thawed weekend.