The UK is all about weather. Even so, when the FMC Outreach team got in the car to visit Aunty, it was a surprise to see a local garage offering folding shovels free with every eight litres of oil. The poster suggested that the handle folded three times and the blade folded in half lengthways - the idea being, I suppose, that you could put it in the glove box until you need to dig your way out of a snow drift, and presumably, if things got really bad you could set fire to some of your cornucopia of engine oil. It looked like something from the late lamented Innovations catalogue, which used to offer hilariously outsize remotes you couldn't lose, solar powered fairy lights, and fleece blankets with hoods (which no doubt are for when you get snowed in on the sofa without a folding shovel).
The journey to Aunty's took us past Hardacre Collage at a time of day I would normally have been teaching. There was a light on in my old office, where I guess someone was wildly cobbling together a spreadsheet of imaginary figures to suggest that some initiative or other was being taken forward in full anticipation of all targets being met within budget in an aggressive funding environment whilst embedding functional skills and remaining fully inclusive. I must admit that I broke into an imaginary sweat till we got through the lights and away. We proceeded to Aunty's without further imaginings - until we arrived. She was there but didn't know where she was, though the Germans were involved, and she described herself as a lost golfball.
The week got colder, and the photo at the top of the page came true. However, last night our Principal had all his feet in the same place, because when a cat has every paw together it means he or she is curled in bliss (having a remarkable skeleton) and that there is a fire. Fruitcake luxuriated all Friday night in its glow, and in the vague knowledge that it was snowing and that once he was a vagrant but now is a billionaire education manager.
As I said, we are a nation made by our weather, a bit like Russia. Mind you, Napoleon would have done better to have headed for Oxford or Ashby-de-la-Zouch rather than Moscow. Though last night, he and his troops might have got snowed in somewhere on the A46 in a Little Chef car park. But if we are now a land of roundabouts and slip roads, we still thrill to the chill and hope it all becomes a 1950s Narnia of porridge and apple-cheeked scallywags, and that we get a day off because everything is shut thanks to a wonderful national lack of foresight. That said, we probably split fifty-fifty into pro and anti snow, and the telly reckons we've got more salt and grit than last year.
Nonetheless, there were signs on the A666 today saying sledges for sale, and the man outside the fish shop was desperately claiming that oysters keep colds and flu at bay (how much more British than the usual claim for oysters). A better claim might be that they boost intelligence. Then, Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education and another kind of fruitcake) might prescribe them for the lower orders to have on Saturday instead of the extra lessons he's suggesting at present. More about him, no doubt, next week. Later still, mid afternoon (that is, as darkness began to loom), a flock of young Santas, elves, reindeer and snowmen went by, collecting for Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal. They were, in the main, largely ignored, except by lorry drivers who tooted the pertest elves. It is after all, despite the early winter wonderland, too early to bring up the subject of Christmas. So let's get out the grit and the folding shovel. With the Tories back, we're going to need them.