sprezzatura: (Frozen Britain)
In pursuit of a more optimistic outlook about the weather and general Januaryishness of the last couple of days, I'm trying to think of the current conditions as semifreddo rather than slushy, dark and drizzly. This attempt to put a more hopeful spin on crap things has been inspired partially by Tia, who, over the past few weeks, has bounded energetically into the role of Odie to my Garfield*, and is currently tearing around the sitting room trying to kill and eat an empty Diet Coke bottle with a frantically wagging tail and indecent enthusiasm. Leave it to her to accentuate the positive.

Even with my newly adopted cheery perspective, seeing the bright side of today is going to be a bit of a struggle. No day that begins with the notification of an overdue parking fine** is going to end well unless I get to spend the rest of it watching Sense and Sensibility, sipping hot chocolate and eating Maltesers from the comfort of my Slanket, but as the house is a tip, the washing has piled up to levels Chris Bonnington would think twice about tackling and my brother is coming to dinner tonight, I have no chance of doing that.

I realise I was in an unusually fortunate position in respect of the Big Freeze, in that I didn't have to struggle through it to work, and K's headmaster is a such old fashioned, stiff-upper-lip, jolly-good sort that when I asked him if he was likely to be closing the school at all he replied "Oh good lord no, we were only shut for a day when the building burned down, we're not going to let a bit of snow bother us!" That gave me the opportunity to make the most of it, and I'm really missing it now it's gone.

It was minus eight in York last Friday morning, and the clouds that had brought a few inches of fresh snow overnight cleared in time for a glorious frosty sunrise that made the Minster look like it had been cast in pewter. Fair enough, it was cold, but in a bright, apres-ski sort of way that invites you to swig Gluhwein and swan around in designer sunglasses, rather than the biting, bone-deep dampness that has replaced it. I reckon it must be at least ten degrees warmer today but the humidity and the wind have combined to produce the sort of penetrating chill you can still feel hours after coming back into the warm.

Most of the reasons why I love the snow are visual. It revitalises the grotty old world like a lovely new throw over a stained and battered sofa. Last week, it made a path along a disused railway track through the wasteground on the edge of a council estate look like Narnia, and turned a frozen river into a silvery Christmas ribbbon. It drifted up the sides of bridges, Tippex-ing over the graffiti and making everything look new and fresh and clean. People out walking in it smiled and wished one another good morning and stopped to chat in an almost Dickensian way. Now it's melting, the river is swollen and brown again, and the broken glass and dog shit are lying in wait under a deceptive layer of black ice. The path is resuming its usual appearance, and the figure in the distance under the lamp light is more likely to be a pervert or a solvent-sniffing teenager than Mr Tumnus. The glamour cast by the snow has worn off and the city has reverted to grim, miserable type.

As, it seems, have I, but I'll leave you with a couple of pictures, just to remind myself it really happened.

Cut, for your pleasure )

*I'm neither orange nor a cat, but I am fat, lazy and cynical and I never met a lasagne I didn't like.

**For which there was no original ticket, which means double the fine even though I was completely unaware of it. Joy
sprezzatura: (Default)
Due to tedious phone-related drama I won't go into, we have just had occasion to make two visits to the T-Mobile shop in town. On both visits it was quite busy, and both times every other customer present appeared to be a Geordie. I realise Newcastle is a bit behind the rest of the country in terms of having discovered things like the benefit of a warm coat in winter, but do they still communicate via telegrams and semaphore up there, or something? Is that why the Geordies have to come down here to buy phones?
sprezzatura: (Default)
Last night Ed and I went on a shopping expedition which involved visiting various outlets on the Monks Cross retail park. As we were leaving PC World (don't ask) to return to our vehicle we were alarmed by two sets of heavy footsteps coming very close up behind us. Instinctively, I gripped my handbag a little tighter, but when the inevitable command to hand over our cash came, it was uttered in such a timid and insipid voice, and preceeded by such a stumbling "Um...." that I was ready to laugh in our would-be attacker's face. Of course, when I did turn round, the teenage boy who had spoken turned out not to be wearing a hoodie, but a neat sixth-formerish kind of outfit and glasses, and his feeble "um... give us money" was apparently addressed not to us but to the father who accompanied him. I was embarrassed by my paranoia until we got back to the car and Ed admitted that his reaction to the demand was exactly the same: a moment of panic at the thought we might be being threatened, before the dawn of the realisation that if we were, we were facing the World's Crappest Mugger and we could probably just hit him or threaten to tell his mum. Have you any tales of inept potential criminals to share with the rest of us, viewers?
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