P is ill. Normally indefatigable, she has been in need of slipping away to lay down and ail, leaving the kids and I staring at each other in panic. Don’t worry, I tell them, we’ll be ok. The girls are sympathetic and nod re-assuringly but they know and I know that we are sunk.
Meanwhile I am planning my diary. P’s illnesses are like Olympic torches. They burn brightly, blazing for what should be unsustainably long periods until finally she passes it to me and she instantly recovers. It’s an arrangement that works. My real fear is that one day we will be ill simultaneously and the children resopirt to eating the dog. I know, however, that I have at best a couple of days before the snot tsunami engulfs me.
We had friends over this afternoon and headed off for a park. The snow was thin, crusty and melting fast but the kids threw themselves into exploiting it for all it was worth. Sara declared “this is the BEST DAY EVER”, which suggests she has usefully low expectations. I wore 17 layers and was so snug I almost fell asleep standing. It was only the constant thudding of snowballs from five children that kept me upright.
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.
The news had been promising snow. Not just some snow but the sort of snow that brings Britain to its knees and has people hugging their pets for warmth whilst burning heirlooms in the grate. Actually, that is just “some snow”. I rushed out to take a picture of the magic white transformer of London’s bleakness today. It looked as if the lawn had dandruff. By the time I realised my camera battery was flat and had rushed inside to change it, the snow had melted. I decided to have a fondue to build on the snowy alpine vibe but then couldn’t find the fondue pot. This is not a day which is going to rate high on my achievement scale. At least I’ve written a blog entry
I can be truly proud of.