Town mouse on snow in London

It’s been a heads-down sort of week, eyes scanning the yard of pavement in front of my newly purchased snow-proof boots for signs of hazard. Bicycling around London has been invigorating; it’s difficult to keep a straight line when traversing the ridged ice of the side streets.

The cold air seems to freeze-dry my windpipe, and, on some days, I’ve had recourse to wearing one of my wife’s fur hats. Nobody seems to notice except my youngest son, who insists on it being removed anywhere near the school gate. A jubilant text from my eldest son announced that school would be finishing early then another, less joyful, to say that it would be achieved by cancelling the lunch break.

‘Should I sweep the step?’ I wondered, when a friend of advanced years was with us. She looked at me askance. ‘In Poland, where I grew up, we had snow this deep,’ she said, raising her hand several feet from the floor. It was not only snow she had to contend with. Her parents were taken by the Nazis and she a Jewish girl only survived by hiding in an orphanage run by nuns, her dark curls bleached with peroxide. ‘The fuss you make in Britain about a couple of snowflakes!’ she scoffed. I couldn’t help feeling there was a symbolic, as well as literal, truth in her words.