Whilst the trees would have us believe that it is still Autumn, there is a definite glimpse of Winter around the corner. It’s COLD and frosty this morning and we’ve cranked up the heating. I don’t mind winter so long as we care spared snow and ice. The cold I can stand.
An elderly relative (my mother’s cousin) died a while ago and the friend who was her executor had been sorting out old documents and photos. She sent them to me as I am the only contact she has for the family. All through my children’s growing years, and later my grandchildren’s I had written Mum’s cousin often enclosing photographs. It was a lovely surprise to find amongst the photos one which I remembered clearly, but had long ago lost my own copy. I’d told the grandchildren about the magnificent snowman my eldest son had built (with help as you may have guessed!) but had never been able to show them. I’m afraid the quality is poor but you can see that even his hat is made of snow. This would have been December 1982.
I wonder if it will snow this winter? Although I agree that it looks pretty, I detest snow and ice because all I can think about is that the people I love have to drive in it.
The winter of 1963 has gone down in modern history as one of the worst winters on record. I even have a vague memory of walking to school with the snow coming almost to the top of my wellies, but I can’t imagine that the prospect of a long winter bothered me much. That was definitely not the case in the winter of 2010/11 when the country suffered its heaviest snowfall in years. My recall of that is much clearer, and I still shudder at the memory. That Christmas we pulled icicles that were three feet long from the window ledges, and struggled through the snow a week before Christmas to take the grandchildren to a booked ‘Breakfast with Santa’. It took us an hour and a half to drive 10 miles but that was far from the worst drive of the winter.
One morning soon after Christmas I drove to Nottingham for a meeting. The motorways were pretty clear but the high banks of sludgy snow on the verges bore witness to what had been. A week earlier, I’d have cancelled but the winter sun had been bright the previous day and although light flurries had been forecast, I wasn’t too worried. Until I arrived that is. The so-called flurry began as soon as I pulled into the car park. It was 8.30am and I had to park in one of the furthest spots as it was already almost full and, given that it had around 2,000 parking spaces, furthest was a fair distance from the office entrance. I didn’t worry too much because after all…..what problem is a mere flurry? I changed into my ‘snow’ boots (anyone who seen a perfectly good pair of leather boots ruined by immovable white marks from snow damage will understand why) and made my way to the entrance by which time the snow looked to be settling. Cue a bit more worry. I swear I heard not a word that was said in that meeting as I saw the snowflakes getting bigger, coming down faster and settling more thickly. All I could think about was getting home. At 10am I made my apologies and left. The journey home usually took around an hour and three quarters. Five hours later I was sitting on the M42 (poor syntax – I was not not literally sitting on it, but it’s what we say isn’t it?) still some way from home. The traffic had moved slowly and wasn’t clearing the snow at all. Even lorries had given up – what chance my car? To say that I was stressed is an understatement – I was in tears and I thought then ‘I just don’t want to do this any more’.
My work covered various locations in the East and West Midlands for years, unbothered by the driving and enjoying the nice company cars (which I could never have afforded to buy for myself) that came with it. Friends used to say how they’d hate ‘all that driving’ and I would reply absolutely truthfully that it didn’t bother me. But that day it really did bother me and when I eventually arrived home, I’d come to a firm decision – I wasn’t going to spend another winter driving endless thousands of miles. It had recently been announced that the company was looking to sell off the division that I worked for and already there were a couple of buyers in the frame. It took until the following November but I handed back my car, took voluntary redundancy and walked away. The relief of knowing that I wouldn’t have to drive long distances if it snowed that winter (and it did) was immense. I now work about a mile and a half from home and although I cover the Worcester and Birmingham depots as well, I don’t need to go very often and I never have to go there. We’ve suffered enough this year. I hope we don’t get snow too.