Thursday, January 29, 2004

Fat Rain

The weather forecast for the last week was snow, but frankly I was getting AWFULLY tired of waiting. On Tuesday I was walking down the street to lunch when itsy bitsy little snow flakes starting swirling around me like tiny lost baby hailstones. This lasted for about 30 seconds. Wednesday I entertained a few workmates by standing on the roof and doing a Julie-Andrews-in-the-first-scene-of-the-Sound-of-Music style dance in the 1 minute splatter of snow. Once again, not terribly exciting, but certainly an escalation.

Then, Wednesday afternoon I went up to Old Street to see my house and as I came out of the tube it was snowing. Old Street Station has an open roof to the sky and so I saw the snow falling before I saw it on the ground. Being a snow-virgin there were a few fabulous moments when I didn’t even know it was snow, I seriously looked at the sky and thought ‘that is REALLY fat rain!’ (thank you Terry Pratchett) Walking out onto my very first stretch of snow covered ground I then discovered that the soles on my boots are entirely useless on snow, that a beanie doesn’t protect you from snow in your eyes and that no-one else was grinning quite as broadly as I was at the snow. Once again I should have taken notice.

It was about 20 minutes before rush hour when I got out of the Tube and so, for a short and blissful time, the snow was undisturbed and blanketed the usual London noise until I could almost hear myself jumping around in my head singing ‘It’s snowing it’s snowing hahahaha it sticks to everything my coat is white ah slippery hehehehe it’s snowing it’s snowing it stings when it hits my face I’m not even cold yet it’s snowing it’s snowing whoops.’ The streets were quiet and those who were about were either standing sulkily wishing they had better shoes on or were under 19 years old and had a snowball in either hand.

I headed out to Leytonstone to have a snowball fight with Monica and Matt. The snow was MUCH thicker out in the parks near them and we had a running fight in the street and then ran crazily around in the pristine snow of the parks. It was Matt’s first experience of snow too so the three of us cleared the roof of every car in the street to make arsenals of snowballs and then, once in the parks, made snow angels and found endless amusement in trying to slam each other down in the snow. While Monica and Matt frolicked I was finding new, untouched snow to make footprints in and beaming indiscriminately at snow laden trees feeling too excited to do anything but say ‘this is so cool.’ The best way to describe the feeling was like I had stepped into a film - I knew exactly what snow looked like, but not what it felt like – it was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

It was not until I had to walk back to the tube station to go home that I got a hint of what terrible times to come. The snow was incredibly slippery and my boots had no grip so Matt practically carried me to the station. The snow was quickly churned to sludge and the sludge froze overnight so Thursday dawned to find London had turned into a giant ice-rink. Despite the forecasts, many of the councils had not gritted or salted the streets and Thursday was a bit of a farce. The news footage that night was of suited City Bankers measuring their lengths on the sidewalks and well-dressed women in heels hauling themselves off the pavements by clutching at poles and bins. Hilarious footage once I was home and safe. The day was a actually nightmare for me. I am terrified of ice-skating. It usually takes me at least three hours of constant babysitting by patient friends to get me to skate on my own and I never look up at ANY TIME when I am on the ice. So imagine my anxiety as I stepped out Thursday morning to walk the ice. I have never been in such a constant state of terror. I didn’t stack it at all during the walks to work, to lunch and back home - a fact of which I am very proud - but it was mainly because I took TINY steps and I never raised my head. At one stage I do believe I started muttering encouraging remarks to myself under my breath however. I hate ice.