As I sit pondering, the snow is falling outside my window. It has been for over an hour now and I am not feeling much like doing anything that involves moving more than a few small muscles. I feel cerebrally active but leave out the physical - its something I need to work up to, like building up a head of steam from cold, and at the moment I'm cold, though not in a thermal sense (I'm warm), just in the getting up out of my comfortable settee (think the last interest - free installment on it has been paid- I'll know when the statement comes!). My wife has started zotting around the house doing things that have to be done because "I just can't sit here" - I know what she means but I refuse to feel guilty so I'll just sit here with "Primeval" as background audio visual wallpaper while I wax lyrical.
Back to the snow. Its still snowing and the vacuum cleaner dirt cylinder has just been emptied. Yesterday on BBC2 they showed a documentary - "Winterwatch 1963 - the Big Freeze" which I watched last night following returning from watching a pantomime in Cambourne, late and when I really should have been in bed. It re-ran a very old film on the "Tonight" programme presented by Cliff Michelmore (that took me back!), and it seemed as if in January and February of 1963 the world nearly came to an end while perishing under polar blizzards, Siberian temperatures, and Himalayan ice flows. One amazing fact which came out of it and was not mentioned by Cliff was that half the British bird population was wiped out. (Its still snowing). However, over the following not many years, the birds quickly re-established themselves in even greater numbers - hurrah!
In 1963 I was a mere stripling 13 years old skinny lad who could easily die of hypothermia if left out too long. I remember the Big Freeze. At the time, from my point of view it didn't feel like the Big Freeze, it was more a wow, this is fantastic - all this snow and I can't wait to get out in it type of thing, though my Mum and Dad didn't see it in the same way. My Dad (we didn't have a car) used to cycle (the pedal type) to work each day from Potters Bar to Southgate and somehow or other still made it to work every day - and back. I don't ever remember him coming home early because his kindly caring employer had let him off early because of the severe weather! One thing which really stands out in my memory is OUR SCHOOL NEVER CLOSED - NOT EVEN FOR A DAY!!!!! I remember one lunchtime building a huge snowball - the type you could only build by rolling it with the help of others, and then , somehow, lifting it high enough to crash it down onto one of the other boy's head - can't remember who he was but I have a hazy memory of him not being very amused This lead to a pitched snow battle between all my mates and all his mates and any form or level of violence was good enough, so long as it involved snow - oh how we laughed!
I remember milk bottles on the doorstep with the cream having expanded upward and leaving the tin foil top sitting precariously on top, often with bird-beak driven holes in the top where the desperate starving birds had pecked into them for sustenance. When I went "down the shops" down the "line path" to Darkes Lane with my mum, she never had to carry the shopping home because we'd stick it on the sled and pull it home. I was very sorry when the thaw eventually came as it must, and the snow disappeared, as taking the sled shopping was fun; not taking the sled and there being no snow and no use for the sled was just plain boring. One day I took a trek to my mate Paul's house and we built an igloo in his garden. This was no nambi-pambi half-hearted igloo, but the real McCoy. The snow was so deep in his garden we actually cut and fashioned big snow building blocks and finished up with an igloo you could live in - if you were so inclined, but I wasn't and my parents wouldn't have let me even if I had wanted to. It was still there when all the surrounding snow had long melted, it was that good!
Nowadays when it snows, we just don't seem to be able to cope. Schools close because there is 2 inches of snow on the ground and horror of horrors it might even become 3!!!!! People get sent home from work early - mustn't risk anyone having an accident on the way home if we leave it too late! Even so, if I get sent home, I don't complain! - more time for pursuing my hobbies.... The ten pin bowling league gets cancelled, even though if people did make the effort and drove carefully, it would probably be alright! Trains stop running and airports close. The economy falters as goods do not get delivered and we hear of food prices having to rise. It will be very interesting then, as we plunge ever deeper into the Doomsday consequences of global warming or should I say climate change, to see how we cope in the future when we most surely according to current predictions have to face winters far worse than anything we encountered in 1963. Back to the British "War Time Spirit" and "Stiff Upper Lip" methinks.
Its still snowing.