For many days now, grim-faced weathermen have been plotting the oncoming threat of snow. The TV coverage has made me begin to wonder if I have lived too long. I am gripped by deja vu – principally because I really have seen it all before.
There will be pictures of cars being dug from drifts in the West Country; cars moving slowly up a motorway along a black track gouged through the snow; a report about delayed trains; film of children’s jubilation that school has closed early (matched no doubt by the mood in the staff room); a rear wheel drive car is shown skidding sideways at low speed; kids ride sledges down Parliament Hill; the worried face of an old man gazes out of a window as a sad voice explains hypothermia and the inadequacy of the Winter Fuel Allowance; local authority employees are quizzed about gritting; an expert is asked about global warming.
Go outside and look up. The grey flakes dart about, picked out against the milky sky. It is a sight even older and more familiar than the monotonous repetitions of the news. Tomorrow the ice will send me toppling and I’ll curse as I snap a credit card cleaning the windscreen of my car but right now I am four years old. I am seeing my first proper snowfall. My face is pressed so hard against the glass that I can smell the dust on the window. Looking up. Looking up. Then dashing to grab my boots and my coat. Mum is pushing a hat onto my head and I’m wondering if you have to be taught how to build a snowman or whether I’ll just know.
I stop wondering whether I’ve lived too long. I haven’t lived enough.