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
His art and photography can be viewed on . 
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 ....


  1. Peter I am already dreading snow but, as you say, I actually do enjoy the muffling of the modern world it affords us. You capture it here brilliantly. I think I will save the link to reread when the first wave of 'stuck' comes!

  2. I have to agree, Carol. I'm reading the stories in Loved and Lost right now, and I'm enjoying Peter's humour. I have also read some of his beautiful poetry and his very witty blog posts. And...I am in complete awe of his artistic skill! As you say, very very multi-talented. Peter, thanks for this post! It made me chuckle too. I loathe snow myself (sorry). Beautiful photos like yours are great, but thats enough for me. Don't ask me to go out in it! By the way, you are so right about the panic it generates. We have just the same nonsensical chaos here in NL or maybe it's just the way I deal with it. I am in permanent snow denial :)

  3. I so enjoyed that, Peter. Beautifully written. I felt young again! :)

  4. Peter is currently having a few technical difficulties responding to comments - but has read and appreciated them...

  5. you do introduce us to some amazing characters Carol, Peter's piece on snow will find the child in all of us I'm sure, but like Val, I would rather not go out in it. Just looking at it is quite wonderful enough for me!
    Congrats on all your developments Carol, very well done...

  6. A wonderful post, thank you Peter (and Carol). I love the snow and race my three children out of the back door as soon as we have a slight flutter! I always lose at snow ball fights as my kids are sneaky sods but the sound of their laughter followed by mugs of hot chocolate after an hour in the park is priceless, thank you for reminding me of what's still to come as the year rolls by.

  7. *Applauds* Absolutely spot on there, dearest Peter, with your observations regarding this nations embarrassing reaction to anything more than half a flaccid snowflake!...and as for dripping Gutters...well, few know better than I how tiresome they can become after a while spent knee deep in their sodden offerings!

    This post was a joy to read and the photograph is so breathtaking and so 'real' I almost feel the need to grow my chest hair again to fight off the chill! Yes indeedy...excellent stuff!...:)

    1. Due to technical failure on the part of the author, I am responding: Thanks.

  8. I love snow, too. There's nothing like it for creating a silence and roads you can walk down. Nice post.

  9. I absolutely love this, because i feel absolutely the same was as you do about it! The stuff on the telly makes me laugh, the cliches used by the weathermen, etc - and I also feel just as you do about those little bits you find left somewhere when it's all gone. I love it when it snows. Good excuse not to go anywhere, love the silence and the brightness. Top stuff, Yevad :)

  10. Sadly, Peter's steam computer run by dinosaurs is still refusing to allow him to comment. But he really appreciates all your remarks.

  11. Aww LOVED reading this Peter!! Humour with a touch of do this so well! As always your creativity leaves me breathless. Thank you for the romp in the snow and to Carol for providing the warm mittens and hip flask :)))

  12. I think snow is pretty, but I have no use for it. It just makes it difficult to go out and when the power goes out...ugh.


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