Friday, 20 September 2013
SNOW: A Meditation by Peter Davey
''I'm immensely grateful to the fabulous Carol Hedges for inviting me to park my pert posterior on her prestigious PINK SOFA and prattle away until it's time for my next dose of Prozac.
I'm fascinated by snow. Well, actually, I'm not fascinated by snow so much as by the British attitude to snow. Here we are, a tiny island stuck out in the North Sea, on about the same latitude as Newfoundland or Siberia yet due to the gentle caress of the Gulf Stream we greet the threat of snow not with the romantic resignation of the Russians or calm efficiency of the Canadians, but with a peculiar blend of bureaucracy and blind panic.
The mere sight of a snowflake drifting past a window is enough to shut down the entire country's public transport system in anticipation of 'Arctic conditions' which almost never materialize. Our normally cheery TV weatherman assumes a grave, headmastery air, admonishing us to 'take only journeys which are strictly necessary' and implying that if we ignore these warnings we are behaving highly irresponsibly and may get put in detention.
Of course, on the rare occasions that a real blizzard renders the work thing completely out of the question, we're reduced instead to the start struggle for survival - or its modern Western equivalent, the struggle for fresh croissants. Despite the four foot snowdrifts banked against our door, we know we have to get on those coats and gloves and wellies and trudge down to Asda before those vultures who live next door have cleared out all the bread and milk and Chardonnay.
Having endured a week of this nightmare, and just when we feel we can't take any more, we suddenly notice our weatherman has regained his former jocularity.' Tomorrow a warm front will move in from the West,' he proclaims, ' the snow will turn to rain and a thaw will set in.' And the news is greeted by the entire nation with an audible sigh of ...... disappointment. For the fact is that, with the masochistic perversity which is another of our national characteristics, we've actually come to rather enjoy the suffering, the privation, the evenings clustered by candlelight round the fire eating 'win the war' suppers. because the power's goner off, granting us a few hours' blessed relief from the telly and the computer screen.
To me there is nothing sadder than the thaw: the great white giant reduced to a sad, pathetic, grimy shadow of his former self, vanquished not by us but by a few degrees' rise in the air temperature. Suddenly everything is dripping - trees, gutters, hedgerows - melting snow dripping into melting snow, then dribbling into drains and dykes and ditches ... drip drip drip.... an outward depiction of our desperate, drooping, deathly dysfunctional depression.
A few days after our last bout of polar conditions I went for a walk in green fields and sunshine - the sky blue, the clouds white, the air warm and springlike. In a shady corner I came across a sad little remnant - a heap of sooty slush clinging on for dear life but vanishing even as I gazed at it, and I could not help closing my eyes, pressing my foot into its depths and rejoicing in that creaking crunch unique to snow beneath the human welly. All of a sudden I was a little boy again, venturing out at first light after an all-night fall, trudging over the arctic wasteland that had once been the lawn, eagerly anticipating toboganing and snowball fights and days off school and marvelling at the sudden fabulous curves and cliffs and cornices, the tiny conical walls of white along every branch and twig and wire.
And most of all, that vast, all-embracing all-muffling silence which is so rare and precious in our modern world, enhances by the distant indignant chirp of a blackbird. And I realized that however much we claim to hate it, however much it disrupts and inconveniences our adult lives, there remains deep down inside all of us, a child who loves the snow. Maybe I am fascinated by it after all...''
Peter Davey is one of those rare individuals who can turn his hand to any art or literary form: books, poems, art, photography. I have one of his beautiful watercolours on the Writing Room wall. His is the breathtaking photo at the top of this post.
Peters's book Loved and Lost in Lewisham can be found at http://www.amazon.co.uk/LOVED-AND-LOST-LEWISHAM-ebook/dp/B008PWXQI8
His art and photography can be viewed on http://www.pinterest.com/pedroyevad/pins/ .
He can also be found on Twitter @PedroYevad
Thanks Peter for taking over the blog this week. I have had second edits to complete and invitations for the slightly manic Facebook Launch Party of the new book to send out. Next week, 'normal' (sic) service will be resumed. In the meantime, do stay and chat with Peter. Not often we have such multifariously talented person gracing the Writing Attic ....