Brrrr... the big chill continues in the UK this week with roads shut, schools being shut, airports nearly shut and trains not departing ie. shut. This morning at stupid o'clock ie. 7.20am, I walked out of my front door with toast and jam stuck nonchalantly in my mouth only to be met by a frozen windscreen and iced-up locks that refused all help to open via my frantic waving and pointing of my central locking fobbed keyring. Rather surprisingly, despite my high-pitched pleading of 'open up NOW you bastard', the door still refused to open. Once over that hurdle, I get into my car and after thawing out my fingers and losing three layers of skins from peeling them back from the steering wheel, I noticed the temperature dial was showing -7c. The journey to work was 30 minutes of hell mastering black-iced roads and spinning my wheel furiously to avoid skidding off into mothers with prams, old ladies in wheelchairs and other cars that probably don't smell of wet dogs. Hyperventilating and sweating at the prospect of coming close to losing my no claims bonus, I left my car and made the treacherous walk across the car park. What is it about age that robs you of total fearlessness? Years ago I would have walked across that car park without a care in the world. I would have done some exhibition glides and skids to the general amusement of my friends. If I fell I would have done a couple of showboating somersaults, dusted myself down and laughed it off. Nowadays, I walk with arms extended for balance, legs totally stiff and kind of shuffle with a grimace akin to a condemned man about to meet his maker on the gallows. I grip cars, fences, walls ANYTHING so long as I stay on my feet. And all the time I'm talking to myself in that mad old woman way 'I'm gonna fall, I'm GOING TO FALL'. It's not pretty.
And the hazards of being a community nurse is that I have to leave the sanctity of my office and go and visit people which means I have to start the whole stressful process again, brown paper bag at the ready. It's been hell, total hell.
Of course if you live in somewhere like Norway or Canada, this is all very commonplace and normal. In Britain, we are totally useless at any weather which is different from grey skies and moderate rain. Heatwaves close schools and kills lots of old people through dehydration. And that's when the temperature goes above 20 degrees C. Floods are a nightmare - not on the scale of the tsunami you understand. We're talking floods that gives an opportunity for Brian and Lucinda Crappingly-Forbes (retired teachers) to free their canoes from their garages or from the roof rack of their Citroen Picasso and go kayaking down the high street in search of a Warburtons loaf and to post a couple of letters.
And then there's snow and ice. We have the finest meteorology technology powered by satellite and very clever people at the Met Office. They predict the weather with alarming accuracy and yet we're still massively unprepared for it. There's never enough gritters, pavements remain untreated and forget the notion of snow ploughs as it doesn't happen. A bit of snow (and we're talking a couple of inches here) and London is practically on its knees. Commuters can't get into the city and no-one gets home. Chaos, total chaos. This is November and they're predicting worse for the next 3 months.
I'm tying two squash rackets to my boots as I type and taking out insurance for a broken hip. In the words of the Scout movement...Be prepared